Monday, May 25, 2015

BPL Closed May 25 for Memorial Day

All locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed Monday, May 25, for Memorial Day.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Popular Urban Street Market in Historic Woodlawn Scheduled for June 20

Photos from Woodlawn Street Market on Facebook

Everyone in the Birmingham and surrounding areas is invited to attend the next Woodlawn Street Market on Saturday, June 20, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event will be held right in the center of historic Woodlawn on 55th Place. This will be the first Woodlawn market of the year and more than 40 vendors are expected to participate and display their wares and crafts.

“Woodlawn Street Market has almost become the embodiment of renewed energy within Woodlawn, and it’s drawing people in,” said Bekah Fox of Woodlawn-based recording studio and record shop, Communicating Vessels. ”The street market is changing perceptions about our neighborhood, even inciting new levels of engagement amongst merchants. New and old businesses now consider their neighbors partners in a much larger effort to launch this community forward. The change is happening from within, and events like the Woodlawn Street Market showcase that vibrancy for the region to see.”

REV Birmingham is still seeking vendors for the event. Applications can be completed at the link below. The vender application deadline is June 5, 2015.

Pamela Jessie
Woodlawn Branch Library

Ready to Buy a New Home? Find a Cheaper Mortgage

A few months ago, NPR had a great piece on new mortgage-finding tools from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many home buyers only talk to one lender. This can lead to a loss of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the mortgage. It is well worth a borrower's time to research the best mortgage rate available.

Birmingham Public Library has several books to make your home buying experience easier.

Home Buying Kit for Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown

How to Have a Stress Free Mortgage : Insider Tips from a Certified Mortgage Broker to Help Save You Time, Money, and Frustration by Linda Fleischmann

Keep Calm... It's Just Real Estate : Your No-stress Guide to Buying a Home by Egypt Sherrod, host of Property Virgins

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review: Imogene in New Orleans

Imogene in New Orleans
Hunter Murphy

For those of you who don’t already know, Hunter Murphy is one of Birmingham Public Library's own. He started with BPL in the Business and Economics Department at Central, which is where we met and worked together lo, these many years ago. I can’t pretend to be unbiased—when the author is your friend it tends to color your perceptions. That said, I’ll do my best to be fair: I LOVED THIS BOOK!

If you “know what it means to miss New Orleans” you’ll enjoy this romp through its courtyards and squares. The descriptions of the city and the French Quarter are dead on. Even old friends of the Crescent City may discover facets of life they've only imagined and their appreciation for N’awlins will deepen.

When Jackson, Billy, and Billy’s mom, Imogene, discover one of their friends dead in his art gallery, the action begins. Suspects and suspicions abound until it seems almost everyone (except Imogene and the boys) have something to gain by his death. The mystery is compelling, but the most enjoyable part of the novel is the dialogue between the characters. Jackson and Billy are long-time partners, but their relationship is just a relationship—not a device or the focus of sturm und drang. This is not a mystery about a gay couple; it’s a murder mystery with delightfully quirky Southern characters, some of whom happen to be gay. Imogene is a feisty matron who is determined to prove her independence and cleverness. Her down-home speech and stubbornness are instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever dared to tell their Southern mama what to do and not do. Billy is a tiny bit of a hypochondriac (who doesn't count at least one of these in their circle of friends?) and Jackson is the one who must comfort, direct, safeguard, and protect his family while trying to find out who murdered their friend. And since no true Southern story can take place without a dog, there’s Goose, the bulldog—or possibly he’s a four-footed carpet sweeper ever on the alert for crumbs.

This is a delightful whodunit, with charming characters, beignets, horse-drawn carriages, jazz music, murder, intrigue, corruption, night clubs, chases, good friends, hustlers, artists, parades, and a spoiled bulldog. Let Imogene, Goose, and the boys gently lead you on their comical search for the killer!

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library
(Copies are available for check-out from BPL.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Children's Book Review: Listen, Slowly (Ages 8-12)

Listen, Slowly 
Thanhha Lai

Mia is a California girl through and through. Her Vietnamese heritage isn't quite as important to her as her beach-bound hometown and circle of friends. She loves her family and everything, but to a twelve-year-old on summer vacation, friends and first crushes trump everything. Mia’s parents just don’t understand the misery they are putting her through when they put her on a plane for Vietnam. Her father insists that she is the one best suited to accompany her grandmother to search for her long-lost husband, but she doesn't even know the language!

Mia’s grandmother is a selfless figure who risked everything to leave her home and start a new life for her family. Even though Mia owes everything to her, she can’t help but resent the fact that she has been uprooted for a hopeless quest. As expected, the trip is miserable. The heat is outrageous, Mia didn't pack the right clothing, the mosquitoes are out of control, and she has to use dial up to get on the Internet! Initially, Mia is full of self-pity and complaints. Something changes when she finds herself befriending her cousins and absorbed in the mystery of her missing grandfather. Slowly but surely, Mia becomes a little wiser, kinder, and more mature. It’s a wonderful journey seeing a foreign land through the eyes of an American tween. Mia initially identifies as a uni-cultural American and by the end she is fully engaged with her Vietnamese heritage.

Thanha Lai’s debut novel was Inside Out and Back Again, which was beautifully written in verse. This is her first novel in prose and it does not disappoint. The writing evokes sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings that make Mia’s visit feel like tangible experience for the reader. I was fully wrapped up in the world just a few pages in. Mia’s voice and personality is just as vivid as the scenery. The nagging self-pity and misery brought up memories of my own feelings at that age. Sure, it was a little irritating, but I could totally identify with her. Mia slowly undergoes a transformation that is sincere and believable. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say the book left me with a deep satisfaction. I felt like I had been through everything myself. I think children fourth grade and up will get a lot out of this title. Mia does indulge in thoughts about boys and body image, but it is all appropriately handled in a way that a preteen can identify with. I can see this title being a perfect summer read for tween girls. (And grown-ups like me.)

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Searching for a Hobby

Man gardening

I had a discussion with a 65-year-old about retirement.  He told me that he has no intention to retire because he doesn’t have any hobbies.  “What will I do every day?”  I’m several years away, but I’ve already had people asking me what I plan to do during retirement.  I don’t know for certain, but I know this:  I do NOT plan to continue to work simply because I don’t have any major hobbies.   

This thought process put me on the path to consider hobbies I might enjoy.  My first approach was to think of things my coworkers enjoy doing and ponder if I might enjoy any of those things.  I was quickly able to cross a number of activities off the list.  Not a big fan of outdoor activities, so hunting, fishing, gardening, etc., got nixed.  I know a lot of people who are passionate about golf, but with my personality, every club and the bag would quickly be thrown into the nearest water hazard.  How about hitting the gym to work on that perfect bod?  I have already posted a blog about my inability to commit to exercise, so that might not be realistic.  Man, this is hard.

Man building model ship

So many hobbies require talent, skill, and patience, like woodworking, model building, knitting, and other crafts.  When I worked in the Arts, Literature, & Sports Department, we received a book on creating your own tabletop fountains.  That sounded cool, so I started reading it.  I figured by the time I bought all the materials I needed, I could just buy a fountain that was ready to plug in.  That seemed to be true for many of the craft project books I went through.  I admire people who have the patience and desire to undertake such projects.

Where does all this leave me?  Well, the library has a tremendous number of books and often DVDs on just about every hobby you can imagine.  I will take advantage of the fact that I am here a lot, and figure out something that I’d like to try.  If you are in the same situation, visit your local library and take advantage of the huge selection of materials.  Moreover, please don’t let a lack of hobbies prevent you from retiring!  Good luck!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Adult Summer Reading Program on Facebook

Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 (June 1-August 14)
Welcome everybody! Summertime means reading time.  Don’t let the kids have all the summer reading fun! Join Birmingham Public Library for our Adult Summer Reading Program on Facebook. Summer reading for adults means reading challenges, sharing your reads, finding book suggestions, making book recommendations, great prizes and book fun.
Adult Summer Reading Challenge:
Every Friday at 5:00 p.m.(see dates below), we will draw names from people who have commented on our post (posted Friday morning) and told us the name of a book they have read. You may read any book you like. You must read at least one book during the week to be eligible for each weekly drawing.
June 19 
June 26
July 10
July 17
July 24
Read as many books as you can during the summer because on August 7 and August 14, there will be grand prize winners from all of the entries turned in during the summer.
Follow our Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 Board on Pinterest. If you don't have a Pinterest account, it's very easy to create one.  We will feature all types of book images, recommendations and other book fun on the board as well.
If you’re on social media, you can be in the drawing for special prizes: 1st follow our Adult Summer Reading Program 2015 Board on Pinterest. Then share your favorite summer reading books, summer pictures, using the hashtag #BPLSummerReads on Twitter or Pinterest. Be creative, you might share a book recommendation, your “to be read” summer reading pile, summer reading selfie, etc. We look forward to seeing your pictures!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Teen Book Review: Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy
David Levithan

Narrated by Paul, a gay teen, this happy-go-quirky tale chronicles one academic year at a very non-conventional high school, where the quarterback/homecoming queen is a transvestite named Infinite Darlene, the cheerleaders ride Harleys, and being straight-out gay is perfectly okay. But even in this oasis of tolerance, Paul still has ordinary teenage problems. First, he starts dating Noah, a quiet, artistic newcomer at school, but finds that he may still have feelings for his ex, Kyle. Then, his best female friend, Joni, starts dating not-so-nice-guy Chuck, and begins drifting away from their close-knit circle of friends. What's a boy to do? A treasured classic in the LGBT community, Boy Meets Boy is a funny, touching story about acceptance of self and the true love our friends and family give us, despite the stupid mistakes we make. Recommended for all walks of life, Ages 13-Up.

Liz Winn
Microforms/Gov Docs
Central Library

Author Jerry Armor to Visit Springville Road Library, May 19

Join us at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library on Tuesday, May 19, 6:30 p.m., for a book talk by Jerry Armor, author of A Home for Wayward Boys: The Early History of the Alabama Boys' Industrial School. The book tells the inspiring story of the school, its leaders, and the boys who lived there. A book signing will follow the program. Books will be available for purchase for $24.95. For more information call 226-4081.

Registration Open For June Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the June 2015 Classes.  All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) LibraryPRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.
To register for a class: ((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)
  1. Complete name, address and phone information. PLEASE PRINT.
  2. Place a check mark in the check box next to the class(es) you would like to attend.
  3. Return the entire form to a staff person in the Public Computer Services department.
  4. You may also send an email to or use the online form to register.
June 2015 Classes