Friday, September 04, 2015

Tea, Anyone?

My mother retired this year and has told me that she values experiences now and doesn’t want or need to accumulate a lot of “stuff.” So early this month, I asked her what she wanted for her birthday. Her response was, “I want an English style tea in a real tea room.” You have to understand that my mother and I love British mysteries, dramas, and comedies, and tea is featured in many of them. I think this, and her love of Downton Abbey, made her want this experience.

So, being a dutiful daughter, I got out my tablet and started looking for places that served traditional English tea in the Birmingham area. I found the TownHouse Tea Shoppe only 30 minutes away in Mt. Laurel and called for a reservation for three (we wanted to take a friend with us). Tea is by reservation only in the summer on Thursdays through Saturdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The owners, Rebekah Mills and Darlene Self, were very kind and gracious and explained the menu. The basic tea was $18.95 per person and included a scone, three tea sandwiches, three sweets, and fruit. The pot of tea which comes in two sizes, small or large, is a separate price. They have a very extensive menu of teas which include variations of black, white, green, and herbal teas. If you don’t really like hot tea, you can have iced tea or juice. We thought we wouldn’t have enough to eat so my mother and I ordered the basic tea plus a cup of soup. We really should have listened to Darlene who assured us that the basic tea would be enough. We were too full to eat the sweets and had to take them with us.

My mother had a great experience and enjoyed herself. The food was delicious and the tea room was beautiful. We left knowing that we would come back again. We had such a wonderful experience at The TownHouse Tea Shoppe that I thought highlighting resources for afternoon tea and pastries would encourage you to try tea at home and when you get a chance, visit a place that serves afternoon tea.

I contacted Rebekah at The TownHouse Tea Shoppe and asked for a recipe to post in this blog article. She agreed to let me post her grandmother’s recipe for Lemon Tea Cake.

Grandmother Prosser's Lemon Tea Cake
Grandmother Prosser's Lemon Tea Cake is really easy to make. My grandfather was a blacksmith with the railroad and was very active in their church. He was also notorious for inviting everybody home with him for dinner. Grandmother was a great cook and very practical and fast. This is one of my favorite recipes.

3/4 cup of self-rising flour
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of whole milk
1/4 cup of melted butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon extract

Directions: Combine dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients one at a time beginning with whole milk. Mix well. Place in 8" X 8" glass baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 15-22 minutes, depending on your oven. When you take the cake out of the oven, immediately ice with lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Juice of one large, juicy lemon or two little scrawny lemons
Zest some of the peeling if you like your glaze a little tart
Mix until really smooth and glossy
Poke holes in the cake with a fork immediately after you take the cake from the oven. Pour your freshly made glaze over hot cake.

Try to remember that it is really bad form to eat all the cake before your guests have a chance to have any. —Rebekah Mills

Alice's Tea Cup: Delectable Recipes for Scones, Cakes, Sandwiches, and More from New York's Most Whimsical Tea Spot by Haley Fox & Lauren Fox

The Afternoon Tea Collection 

For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose

The Great Tea Rooms of Britain by Bruce Richardson

The Tea Book by Linda Gaylard

The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook: A Guide to Enjoying the World's Best Teas by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss

Tea for You: Blending Custom Teas to Savor and Share by Tracy Stern

Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties edited by Jonathan Racine

Victoria, the Essential Tea Companion: Favorite Menus for Tea Parties and Celebrations

Vintage Tea Party by Carolyn Caldicott

I hope you enjoy your tea with Grandmother Prosser’s Lemon Tea Cake.

Maya Jones
West End Regional Branch Library

Postcards from Miss Iwate #1

拝 啓

Everyone, while I'm going back to Japan, I'm going to be sending you virtual postcards from my trip. The above says haikei - that's how we start letters in Japan. It's like saying "Dear".

I've been living at the Birmingham Public Library for 87 years. That's a long time, so I'm going back to Japan to get a makeover!

Mr. Masaru Aoiki from the Yoshitoku Doll Company in Tokyo came to get me, and he will be taking good care of me on the trip.

I'll be sending new postcards from different places in Japan each week here on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr!

Here I am looking out the window of an airplane as I begin my journey!

敬 具
(Keigu - with respect,)

Miss Iwate

Read and Romp Birmingham Scheduled for September 12 at Learning Tree Park

Attention families with children ages 3-5! It’s time for Read and Romp Birmingham! Come and celebrate an exciting and FREE literacy event for families with small children. Join us on Saturday, September 12, from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., at Learning Tree Park (beside Five Points West Regional Branch Library).

Kids are invited to join us for fun, learning-based activities inspired by children’s books. Each station will be staffed by organizations and businesses that are child-focused, providing families an opportunity to learn about activities that will enhance the development of their children. This year we have some amazing organizations that will be manning our stations. Among those are the Birmingham ZooArtPlayBirmingham Museum of ArtAlabama Public Television. the Birmingham Public Library (of course!), and many more!

The Birmingham Public Library is a lead partner at Read and Romp Birmingham and will have fun, engaging activities centered around the book I Stink by Kate McMullan. Our friends from Corey Watson Attorneys will be providing free bicycle helmets to the first 250 children through their Helmets for Kids program. The Junior League of Birmingham will be present with their Yummy Van, a kitchen on wheels aimed at teaching about healthy foods. The Birmingham Fire Department will offer children an opportunity to visit their Safety House. Two costumed characters, Super Shy and Princess Presto from the PBS show The Reading Adventures of Super Why, will be present for meet and greet opportunities. These are just a few of the many opportunities available for families attending the Read and Romp Birmingham event.

Participants will leave the event with goodies they have created or earned by completing each station. By associating fun-filled activities with reading, parents will learn ways to engage with their child on the life-long journey of learning at an early age, which will help increase their children’s success in school. The first 400 families completing the activities at each station will receive a bag of FREE brand-new books.

For more information visit the Read and Romp Birmingham 2015 Facebook page.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Thursday, September 03, 2015

New Staff at BPL is Dedicated to Quality Service

When you are the largest public library system in the state, things can often get quite busy. As the year 2014 came to a close, staff at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) was so excited about the upcoming 2015 calendar year that they barely had time to welcome new colleagues who have been hard at work now for several months. With 19 locations and 302 employees, it is important to recognize new staff; staff achievements and to celebrate staff promotions. Since system staff is only able to gather once a year for training and fellowship, regular staff blogs will now be in place to share updates at least once a month—putting names with new faces where possible. BPL celebrates achievements and welcomes new staff working in the system from November 2014 through July 2015.

New Librarians

Cynthia “Cyndi” Roeder Barnett is a native of Sioux City, Iowa where she lived until 2005. She attended North High School in Sioux City; Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa; and the University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies. Before beginning her tenure at BPL on March 9, 2015, Cyndi worked for libraries in Iowa, Tennessee, and Alabama in cataloging, acquisitions, and public services. Currently, she is a librarian in the Catalog Department of the Central Library and according to Cyndi, she is “married to an amazing man named Bill Barnett.”

Laura Gentry claims no hometown as she has lived in six different states scattered across the South and part of the SEC Conference. She graduated from Arkansas’ Ouachita Baptist University where she majored in history
and secondary education. Laura went on to receive a Master of Arts in History from the University of Alabama, as well as a Master of Library and Information Science and a graduate certificate in Records and Information Management from Wayne State University. In terms of her job history, shehas been a high school teacher, bank teller, camp counselor, fast food cashier, and ran her own research business. Prior to becoming a librarian in the Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library, she has worked in the Social Sciences Department at the Central Library, two archives and special collections libraries, and an academic library. In her current position, she is responsible for outreach and digital projects and is passionate about digital preservation. When not working at the library, Laura enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her cat, Joy; watching classic movies; and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Lance Simpson is the System Teen Librarian for BPL. His home town is Trion, Georgia, a tiny cotton mill town in the foothills of the Appalachians. Lance graduated from Trion High School in 2005 and received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from Berry College in Rome, Georgia. He later attended the University of Alabama and received a Master in Library and Information Studies. Prior to working at BPL, he worked for the Social Security Administration and the Tuscaloosa Public Library. He is married to a fellow librarian, Becky McDaniel, and together they undertake all sorts of adventures with their dog, Sprocket.

Other team members who are recent graduates, newly hired, promoted, or transferred into new positions since November 2014 through July 2015:

Central Library
  • Celia Alison applied for a part-time Library Assistant II position in the Southern History Department of the Central Library. She was transferred from the Springville Road Regional Branch Library effective November 15, 2014.
  • Thomas Flute received an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Lawson State Community College in May 2015. He is a full-time Security Officer at the Central Library.
  • Jennifer Hancock was promoted to a part-time Library Assistant III position in the Business, Science and Technology Department at the Central Library on November 1, 2014. She previously worked in the same department as a part-time Library Assistant I.
  • Francesca Scott joined the BPL team on March 9, 2015. She is a part-time Library Assistant I working in the Page Room.
  • Alexa Simpson began working for BPL on November 17, 2014. She is a part-time Library Assistant I in the Fiction Department at the Central Library.
  • Kiara Smith received a B.S. Degree in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in May 2015. Kiara is a part-time Library Assistant I working in the Page Room at the Central Library.
  • Kimberley Wiley began her duties on February 9, 2015. She is a part-time Library Assistant I working in the Business, Science and Technology Department at the Central Library.
  • Jamilah Woods has been one to watch since moving to the Central Library after working as a Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) employee for many years at the Powderly Branch Library. She has transferred from a Library Assistant III position in the Computer Commons to serve as the Personnel Assistant in Administration.
  • Brian Young accepted a part-time Building Service Worker position on November 15, 2014 at the Central Library with more hours. His previous experience as a Building Service Worker was at the Inglenook Branch Library.

Eastern Region
  • David Camp joined the BPL team on March 9, 2015. He works as a part-time Library Assistant II at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.
  • Patricia Douglas began her duties with BPL on January 12, 2015, as a part-time Library Assistant II at the East Lake Branch Library.
  • Whitney Garner has been on the move since beginning her tenure with BPL in 2012. She first worked as a Library Assistant I at the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library before being promoted to a part-time Library Assistant II at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.
  • Whitney was promoted to a full-time Library Assistant III in the Youth Department at the same location on November 15, 2014.
  • Cierah Greene joined the BPL team on February 23, 2015. She is a part-time Library Assistant II at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.
  • Tracy Hill began her duties on December 15, 2014. She is a part-time Building Service Worker at the East Lake Branch Library.

Northern Region
  • Steven Brogdon accepted a position with more hours as a part-time Security Officer at the Pratt City Branch Library. He began his time at BPL at the Central Library.
  • Asiah McKinstry is a Library Assistant I at the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library. She received an Advanced Diploma with Distinction from Shades Valley High School in May 2015.

Southern Region
  • Reeshawna Caddell was promoted to a part-time Library Assistant III position at the Eastwood Branch Library on November 29, 2014. She previously worked at the same location as a Library Assistant II.
  • Cornelius Lee was promoted to a part-time Library Assistant II at the Eastwood Branch Library in February 2015. He previously served as a Library Assistant I at the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library.
  • Eve Parker was promoted to a full-time Library Assistant III position in the Youth Department at the Avondale Regional Branch Library on November 1, 2014. She previously worked as a part-time Library Assistant III at the same location.

Western Region
  • Mauresha Hawkins began working at BPL on November 17, 2014. She is a part-time Library Assistant I at the West End Branch Library.
  • Christina “Joan” Inman was hired by BPL on December 15, 2014. She is a part-time Library Assistant III in the Literacy and Outreach Office at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library.
  • Toni Powell began her duties with BPL on December 26, 2014. She is a part-time Library Assistant II assigned to the Powderly Branch Library.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Books in Chinese? Yes. Now a Catalog in Chinese Too! / 有中文书?Yes, 还有中文目录!

The Birmingham Public Library has carried books in Chinese for over a decade. The collection of nearly two thousand books has a dedicated reader base and is the only collection of its kind in the region. Recently, a catalog in Chinese characters was set up with a reader social website. Compared with the official catalog in Pinyin, the new system offers more natural and spontaneous reading. Our collection covers a variety of topics that include history, biography, music, art, health, cooking, child-rearing, and more. Classics, highly acclaimed novels, award winners, nonfictioin—no matter what your interests, you are sure to find something you like. New titles are added on a regular basis. Visit us often and let us make your reading experience more enjoyable than ever.

伯明瀚图书馆有中文书已经很多年了. 现在我们又建立起一个可以用中文浏览书目的系统. 和官网上的拼音目录相比, 中文显示读起来词意清晰, 让人感觉一目了然. 要知道我们有些什么书, 您可以在任何时间和地点, 用手机或其他装置, 就象站在书架跟前一样, 慢慢看来. 我们有将近两千本的藏书, 每本都是由华人专业管员精心为您挑选和保存. 古今中外, 经典名著, 流行新品, 时尚爱好, 历史人文,音乐艺术, 烹调休闲, 不论什么阅读喜好, 您都能找到喜欢的. 我们和中文出版业保持同步, 经常添购新书. 最新流行的,评价高的, 或得奖的作品, 我们通常都有. 希望您经常来这里逛逛, 找到喜欢的书, 让我们为您提供服务, 让阅读更加丰富您的业余生活.

Go to 直接上网站

OR access through 或通过官网

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Happy Reading to all!

多读书, 读好书!

Jiemin Fan
Arts, Literature and Sports Department

Fourth Book in Popular Millennium Series Released September 1

The Girl in the Spider’s Web
David Lagercrantz

Happily, great literary characters never die. Stieg Larsson dies before his great Swedish noir trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, was even published. But, like Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant Goth hacker Lisbeth Salander and the muckraking journalist Mikael Blomkvist, her loyal friend, have been revived by author David Lagercrantz in his The Girl in the Spider’s Web, and, by most pre-publication reviews, have survived the change of authors intact. So…it’s time to re-visit their Stockholm haunts.

First, of course, Blomkvist’s Millennium, the magazine he publishes at offices on Gotgatan, the main street of the island neighborhood of Sodermalm:

Down Gotgatan on the right is the Tunnelbanna (metro) station at Slussen with the towers of the Grona Lund amusement park visible across the water:

Up Gotgatan on the left is the Seven Eleven, where Salander buys her Billy’s Pan Pizza:

Blomqvist hangs out at the sunny Mellqvist Kaffebar, which is in many scenes within the book, memorably when Salander asks him for money:

Blomkvist and Erika Berger eat much better at Samir’s Tavern (actual name Tabbouli, which really does have delicious Middle Eastern food):

Blomkvist lives nearby in a penthouse flat here with a steel bridge and a lift (elevator) at the end of the street. You can see why it would be so difficult to conduct surveillance here:

Salander, after she comes into her fortune, lives in the small, swank neighborhood of Mosebacke and passes through this lovely archway on her way to nearly any destination:

Finally, any of the characters taking the metro to the Kungsholmen police headquarters would pass through this remarkable Tunnelbana station, carved from the had rock upon which Stockholm uneasily rests:

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is available from the first of September. Reserve your copy now and visit remarkable Stockholm in your imagination.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Local Teen Creates Characters for Library Activity Book

BPL Board President Kim Richardson (far right) congratulates Jaylen, his
parents Rachel and Brad Allen, and his sister Kennedy Allen. 

Libraries are great places to check out reading material, to learn a new skill, and to share your talent as a volunteer. This is the experience 16-year-old Jaylen Callins took away from his summer volunteer project at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) system’s Central Library.

Jaylen Callins poses with library staff (left to right) Lance Simpson, Karyn 
Davis-West, and Cheryl Burgess.

When Jaylen asked for the opportunity to use his drawing skills, staff quickly put their heads together. Working with guidance from staff in the Central Library’s Youth Department, the team asked Jaylen to create new characters to teach children about positive library experiences. Jaylen quickly got to work and what he produced were lively characters embarking on a visit to the local library. With Jaylen’s new creation, Oscar the Octopus set off on his library journey. Copies of the activity book are free and available at all 19 locations of the Birmingham Public Library.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell recognized Jaylen at the 
city council meeting on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, for his work
on Oscar the Octopus. The artist presented a hand drawn 
likeness of the mayor to him for his office.

Jaylen Callins is 16-years-old and attends Clay-Chalkville High School and The Jefferson County School of Visual Art—Shades Valley Technical Academies (dual-enrollment). He has won several art awards throughout the years and is currently part of Teen BMA (Birmingham Museum of Art). Jaylen has hundreds of volunteer hours recorded for his work on this project at the Central Library, for his work at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library where pieces of his art have been displayed, and at several other organizations throughout Jefferson County. He was the winner of the City of Birmingham’s Division of Youth Services logo design for the 2014 Smart Art Festival and a finalist for the 2015 Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s 7th District Congressional Art Competition.

Birmingham Public Library, a Family Place Library, Presents 1-2-3 Play with Me

Playing with your baby is not only important for bonding but it 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. 1-2-3 Play with Me, a five week program, is for children birth through age 3 and their parents/caregivers. We will have 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.

Remember: You are your child’s first teacher. 1-2-3 Play with Me is an opportunity for you and your child to play and learn together. Visit Birmingham365 for the 1-2-3 Play with Me schedule for these Birmingham Public Library locations: Avondale, Central, Five Points West, Pratt City, and Springville Road.

1-2-3 Play with Me Schedule
Avondale Regional Branch Library
September 9-October 7
Every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

Central Library
October 13-November 10
Every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

Five Points West Reginal Branch Library
September 8-October 6
Every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

Pratt City Branch Library
October 14-November 18
Every Wednesday (except November 11) at 10:00 a.m.

Springville Road Regional Branch Library
October 8-November 12
Every Thursday (except October 15) at 10:00 a.m.

The Birmingham Public Library: Family Place Library is funded in part by a Community Project Grant from the Junior League of Birmingham in the impact area of education.

Popular Bards & Brews Takes Place September 4 at Ruffner Mountain

WHO: Birmingham Public Library (BPL)

WHAT: Bards & Brews Program for September 4, 2015

WHEN: Friday, September 4, 2015

WHERE: Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve’s Back Porch

TIME: Music by Bob Marston starts at 6:30 p.m. and poetry performances begin at 7:00 p.m.

ABOUT OUR PROGRAM: Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series takes place this Friday at Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve’s Back Porch. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the September event features beer provided by Back Forty Beer Company out of Gadsden and will be an open mic event. The program is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to participate—ID is required.

The October Bards & Brews will be a slam and it is scheduled in conjunction with the library’s annual Eat Drink Read Write (EDRW) Festival on Friday, October 9, 2015. Taking place the second Friday in October, this very special edition of EDRW takes place at BPL’s Central Library located at 2100 Park Place, Birmingham 35203. For more information, call 205-226-3670, e-mail, visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page or go to

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Helping Children Establish Good School Habits

School is back in session and children are adjusting to the hustle and bustle of school. Waking up early, doing homework, participating in extracurricular activities in addition to maintaining household chores and other ritualistic tasks can leave children exhausted and unmotivated; however, if managed properly, children will not only be prepared to complete the ever growing list of tasks, but will also have the zeal to complete them. Time management and organizational skills are crucial in juggling multiple tasks and if taught, children can learn how to effectively apply them throughout their lives. Below is a list of books available throughout the library system that will teach parents, caregivers, teachers, and even children themselves how to manage time and multiple tasks both effectively and efficiently while maintaining happiness. Happy Reading!

The Learning Habit: A Groundbreaking Approach to Homework and Parenting That Helps Our Children Succeed in School and Life by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, Rebecca Jackson, Robert Pressman

Raising Happiness:10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents  by Christine Carter

Smart But Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings by Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD

School Made Easier: A Kid's Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety-Busting Tools by Wendy L. Moss, PhD

Get Organized Without Losing It by Janet S. Fox

A Kid's Guide to Managing Time: A Children's Book about Using Time Efficiently and Effectively by Joy Wilt

Organize & Create Discipline by Justin Klosky

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Branch Library

Matthew Mayes’ Layers of Meaning Series Going Home August 29

Hurry to the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery by September 4 to view—or purchase!—intricate acrylic paintings bold in color, texture, and depth.

It’s your last chance to experience The Layers of Meaning: Paintings by Matthew Mayes, a showcase of work by popular local artist Matthew Mayes. The art gallery has been a success for Mayes, with many clients bringing home his kaleidoscopic pieces for their living rooms and businesses.

Mayes considers his vibrant array of paintings to be a study of color perception, definition, and composition.

“The viewer’s reality is based on how my artwork makes them feel,” Mayes said about his work. “Art should awaken your senses and test your boundaries between perception and reality. Either way, you are never wrong with what YOU see in art and how art makes YOU feel.”

Awaken your senses to Mayes’ colorful world and see what his artwork says to you.


Matthew Mayes

Born in Florence, Alabama, Matthew Mayes is a self-taught artist with over 12 years’ experience as a professional. He currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, with his partner Brian and their son Noah.

Matthew began painting as a child after watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. He had experienced a number of stints with hospitalization and home schooling due to illness and needed an outlet for his creativity. Art was his answer and savior.

Concerning the process of creating art, Matthew states, “I allow natural ability combined with a trained eye to create. Without both, my art could not exist."

Matthew’s exhibits have appeared at popular local events like the Birmingham Art Crawl as well as out-of-state, from Michigan to Arizona and beyond. You can find his work featured at all I.O Metro locations.

Bethany Mitchell
Arts, Literature and Sports Department
Central Library

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Uku-Lending at Birmingham Public Library

Thanks to a generous donation of five ukuleles and their cases from Fretted Instruments of Homewood, the Avondale Library Youth Department is now circulating (lending) ukuleles! The ukulele has been described as a “hip” inexpensive instrument that is very easy to learn to play. While there are libraries in Alabama that host a ukulele club, Avondale is one of the first, if not the first, Alabama library that lends the instrument to their patrons; we are pioneers. In addition to being fun, recent research shows that playing a musical instrument improves concentration, memory, and focus—a benefit for all ages. If you would like more information on how you too can become part of the “Uku-Lending” craze, visit the Avondale Library today.

Carla Perkins
Avondale Regional Branch Library

Laughing through the Summer (or End of Summer) Blues

Laughter is the best medicine.

The oldest documented joke dates back to 1900 BCE. A Sumarian proverb a bit lost in translation, it still bares much resemblance to today's low-brow humor. Babylonians even had Yo Momma  jokes. Clearly, the need to giggle and tease is nothing new. Wordplay, irony, and sarcasm are found even in the Bible.

Comedic plays were common even in ancient Greece and comic books as we know them date back to the 19th century.

If you want to learn about the history of humor. We've got you covered.
A history of American graphic humor by William Murrell
Stop me if you've heard this : a history and philosophy of jokes by Jim Holt.
American humor : a study of the national character by Constance Rourke

If you're just in the mood for a laugh,  we've got that too. From records and writings of Jeff Foxworthy, Richard Pryor, Tina Fey, and George Carlin to National Lampoon, Peanuts, and Foxtrot, we have items to help you laugh away the summer (or end of summer) haze.

DVDs of stand up comics
Books on CD

Funny Reads
Humorous Fiction
Joke books

Allie Graham
Central Library
Arts, Literature, Sports

Monday, August 24, 2015

Five Points West Library's Fall Family Programming to Focus on Parent-Child Interaction

Fun with Play-Doh at 1-2-3 Play with Me, Five Points West Library, 2014

September will be here soon and so will our programs for children and families. On Thursday mornings beginning September 3 at 10:00 a.m., we will have our children's storytime programs. This program is for parents, children, and preschoolers, as well as day cares.

Our 1-2-3 Play with Me program will run this fall every Tuesday, September 8-October 6. This program is for children from birth to three years old accompanied by parents. This program has toys, blocks, books, songs, and art activities for children, and special visitors will be on hand to answer questions you may have about raising your child.

Beginning Tuesday, September 27, we will begin our Prime Time Family Reading Time program for families at 6:00 p.m. This is a special six-week program for families with children ranging from age three to 10. A light dinner is served and then the fun begins with storytellers, discussions, and crafts. Families must preregister for this program at the Five Points West Library or call us at 226-4017.

Several other BPL locations also offer 1-2-3 Play With Me programs.

Visit Birmingham365 for a list of more Five Points West Library and BPL systermwide programs.

Lynn Carpenter
Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Time Travel and Genealogy: A Match Made in Time

Back to FutureThe ability to travel through time has always fascinated people. Countless books, movies, and TV shows delight us with the stories of time travelers and their adventures, and I have to admit that if a plot involves time travel that I am more than likely to give a book, movie, or TV show a try. Here is one favorite from each of those categories:
  • Books: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is a perennial classic time travel book that first introduced to the concept of a time machine, which is a vehicle that allows us to travel through time. 
  • TV: Doctor Who is a British sci-fi series that has been running since 1963 and features the Doctor and his companions as they travel through time. 
  • Movies: Back to the Future is a trilogy of movies that involves time travel to the Old West, 1950s, 1980s, and the year 2015 (the future). The year 2015 has arrived, and some of the future depicted in this movie is reality. However, I still do not own a hover board. 
However, these fictitious characters are not real people and will always make it seem somewhat imaginary. What it you could travel through time and meet your own ancestors? What was life like from your great grandmother or your great great great (insert as many greats as needed) grandfather who fought in the American Revolution? If you have asked that question, you should attend What Time is It?: Putting Your Ancestors in Historical Context, which is part of our Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop series. In this workshop, you will travel through time with your ancestors to find what their lives may have been like and discover untapped sources. Locate contemporaries of your ancestor to determine what people and events defined their time. Plot creative timelines that can open new research possibilities, solve mysteries, and bring your ancestors to life!

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy: What Time Is It? Putting Your Ancestors in Historical Context will be held on August 29, 10:00 a.m., at the Central Library/Arrington Auditorium. 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 e-mail us at The workshop will be held in the Arrington Auditorium (4th floor) of the Linn-Henley building.

Laura Gentry
Southern History Department
Birmingham Public Library

Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King

It’s 2009. The economy’s tanked. In a nameless Midwestern city, job-seeking hopefuls are lined up outside the annual City Center job fair when a madman plows into the crowd with a stolen Mercedes Benz. Eight are killed, and dozens maimed by the time the death-car’s taillights vanish in the early morning fog. When the police find the vehicle hours later, it’s abandoned in a parking lot, and wiped clean of prints. As a final, creepy touch, the killer also left the clown mask he was wearing during the massacre on the driver’s seat. No one is ever caught.

Exactly one year after the massacre, newly retired detective Bill Hodges receives a letter from Mr. Mercedes, taunting him for being unable to crack the case. Given a new sense of purpose, Hodges sets to work trying to catch him. Covering points of view for both the killer and the detective, Mr. Mercedes chronicles the cat and mouse game they play that could result in yet another attack of unthinkable horror.

What can I say? No one can craft a story like King can, nor can they capture the feel of an era and use it to such maximum effect. A modern-day tribute to the detective genre, Mr. Mercedes combines good old-fashioned noir with creepiness, out-right horror, and that off-the-wall prose that King’s fans know and love him for. And while I can’t quite hail the ending as particularly strong or original, it certainly is one heck of a ride getting there! Recommended for fans of David Fincher's serial killer film, Seven.

Liz Winn
Microforms/Gov Docs
Central Library 

Springville Road Library Computer Lab to Close for Renovations, August 24-September 7

Springville Road Regional Branch Library will remain open, but our computer lab will be closed on Monday, August 24, and will reopen on Tuesday, September 8. The good news is that we’re getting a new floor for the computer lab; the bad news is that in order to do so we must close the lab to install it. There will still be three computers in the Youth Department and two in the Adult Department. We also have a 15-minute Express computer to insure quick access if all you need to do is check your e-mail.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library