Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Help Raise Some Dough for the Birmingham Public Library

Help support the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) while enjoying some pizza at Slice Pizza & Brew in Birmingham's Lakeview District. How it works:

Present this FREE Dough Raising ticket—available at all BPL locations and at Slice Pizza the day of the event; or show the online ticket to Slice staff—when you dine in or carry out on Tuesday, June 27. Slice will donate 10% of total sales (excluding alcohol) to help fund educational programming at BPL's 19 locations spread across Birmingham's 99 neighborhoods.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

BPL Hosting Free Exercise Classes as Part of 2017 Summer Reading Activities

Candice Hardy (left) and Lady Woo from 95.7 Jamz at a summer reading
mediation and exercise program at the Five Points West Regional Branch
Birmingham Public Library storyteller Candice Hardy is showing patrons how to motivate their minds and get in shape through simple physical exercises. Hardy, who works out of the Five Points West Regional Branch Library, is teaching several free classes called Build a Better You and Workout Wednesday with Ms. Candice as part of BPL's 2017 Summer Reading. Hardy's classes are a spin-off of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s popular “Let’s Move” campaign. In her classes, Hardy talks about the importance of exercise, meditation, and methods to develop a healthier attitude/lifestyle.

Here are Hardy's remaining summer reading exercise classes for June and July:
Tuesday, June 27, at 10:00 a.m. – Wylam Branch Library
Wednesday, June 28, at 10:00 a.m. – Smithfield Branch Library
Thursday, June 29, at 1:30 p.m. – Powderly Branch Library
Thursday, July 6, at 11:00 a.m. - West End Branch Library
Tuesday, July 11, at 10:00 a.m.- Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Wednesday, July 12, at 2:00 p.m. - West End Branch Library

For details on these and other summer reading programs, visit the BPL events calendar.

Build a Better City at Inglenook Library

by Karnecia Williams, Branch Head, Inglenook Branch Library

In honor of the national summer reading theme, Build a Better World, on June 26, the Inglenook Branch Library will conduct a children’s program titled Build a Better City. Children will be provided shoeboxes and other material to make their city what they want it to be. They’ll be asked about what their vision for their city is to stimulate creativity and expose and provide an understanding on how a city is operated. How will it be governed? What methods of transportation will be available? What kinds of restaurants, if any, will they have? All of these questions will be asked to also motivate kids to think critically.

If you are interested in having your child participate, please contact the Inglenook Library at 205-849-8739. Build a Better City, Build a Better World one imagination at a time.

Get Your Jig On: Irish Dance for Kids

by Jim Baggett, Department Head, Archives and Manuscripts Department

Jane Ann and Lilla dressed for competition
It’s happened to us all. You see Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance, leaping about the stage and think, I could do that. Well, now you can (sort of).

The Birmingham Public Library Archives, in cooperation with Pinson Public Library, Avondale Regional Branch Library, Springville Road Regional Branch Library, and Homewood Public Library will offer Get Your Jig On, free 30-minute Irish dance classes for kids.

Irish dance is both ancient and universal. Many dances performed today date back hundreds of years and Irish dancers throughout the world perform many of the same dance steps. Join us to learn about the culture of Irish dance and learn some new steps.

Teachers: Jane Ann Baggett and Lilla Carroll from the Westwood Irish Dance School. Jane Ann and Lila, who participate in Irish dance competitions throughout the Southeast and Midwest, are both students in the creative writing program at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

June 26, 11:00 a.m., Pinson Public Library
June 28, 10:00 a.m., Avondale Library (registration required; the Irish dance instruction will be part of the storytime program)
June 30, 4:00 p.m., Springville Road Library (registration required)
July 7, 10:30 a.m., Homewood Public Library

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

BPL Hosting Free Yoga Classes for Adults and Teens as Part of Summer Reading

Yoga instructor and former librarian Marie Blair (third from left) with North Birmingham Library 
librarian Leigh Wilson (fourth from left) and gentle yoga participants. Wilson's Take a Step in 
the Right Direction pedometer program allowed patrons to receive their own pedometers 
to keep track of their exercise. 

Marie Blair, a recently retired school librarian, is teaching several free classes called Build a Better You with Gentle Yoga as part of BPL's 2017 Adult Summer Reading. Blair's classes include Tai Chi, gentle yoga postures, poetry, and humor in her classes. Blair invites both newcomers and patrons experienced in yoga to participate in her workshops and get their body in shape by developing strength, flexibility, and balance inch by inch.

Marie Blair at the East Lake Branch Library

Here are some of Blair's upcoming yoga workshops:
Friday, June 23, 10:00 a.m., at Smithfield Branch Library
Friday, June 30, 10:00 a.m., "Yoga for Seniors" at Springville Road Regional Branch Library
Thursday, July 6, 2:30-3:30 p.m., at Southside Branch Library
Friday, July 7, 10:00 a.m., at Ensley Branch Library
Monday, July 10, 10:00 a.m., at Woodlawn Branch Library

For more details on these and other summer reading programs visit the BPL events calendar.

2017 Summer Reading for Adults Includes New Citizen's Story, Yoga, Crafts Programs

An Iraqi native will share her journey from the Middle East to becoming a U.S. citizen on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 10:00 a.m., at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.

In a program called A New Citizen's Story: A View of Unity, Khloud Jawad will discuss being brought up in the Middle East, her imprisonment for her religious beliefs, and what it means to her to be a U.S. citizen. Her talk is a part of BPL’s 2017 Summer Reading activities. Khloud will also give a Q & A talk on Friday, June 23, 10:00 a.m., at Springville Road Library.

2017 Summer Reading is sponsored in part by the Alabama Power Foundation, which has supported BPL for nine years. BPL also appreciates the in-kind contributions of Rally's, Barnes & Noble, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the City of Birmingham Division of Youth Services. The 2017 Summer Reading theme is “Build a Better World.” Through books, activities, and guest presenters, participants will discover new ways of looking at the world around them and the joy of reading.

You can see the full schedule of over 500 programs for kids, teens, and adults by visiting the BPL events calendar.

BPL Hosting Ballard House Conversation Project Signups June 19-24

The Ballard House Project, Inc. is partnering with the Birmingham Public Library as it seeks people willing to share personal stories about Birmingham’s historic past.

The Central Library and four regional libraries across the city will host sign-ups for residents willing to participate beginning Monday, June 19, through Friday, 24, 2017.

“We are gathering people across the metro area to record community conversations about Birmingham’s historic past,” said Majella Hamilton of the Ballard House Project. “Our community was built with the hard work, sacrifice, and legacy of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. It’s time we learn more about them.”

The sign-up schedule is as follows:
Monday, June 19, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, 4:00-7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 20, Five Points West Regional Branch Library, 4:00-7:00 p.m.
Thursday, June 22, Springville Road Regional Branch Library, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Friday, June 23, Central Library, 3:00-6:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 24, Avondale Regional Branch Library, 2:00-5:00 p.m.

For more information, go to www.ballardhouseproject.org or call 205-731-2000.

The Ballard House in the Birmingham civil rights district downtown, is a cultural and educational space dedicated to celebrating people, places and events from Birmingham’s past and inspiring citizens of today. “Our goal is to bridge our present with our past,” Hamilton said.

The Ballard House
1420 7th Ave N, Birmingham, AL
The Ballard House was built in 1940 by Dr. Edward Ballard, a prominent Birmingham doctor in the 1920s. Hamilton’s husband, Herschell Hamilton, is the son of the late Dr. Herschell Hamilton Sr., who upon moving to Birmingham in 1958 became the first board-certified African American surgeon in the city. Dr. Hamilton became known as the “dog-bite doctor” for providing free medical care, including surgery for several foot soldiers and activists injured during the 1960s civil rights movement. He was the personal physician for Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and also treated Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Hamilton’s office was located inside the Ballard House, and he spent much of his 43 years of medical practice there. Hamilton’s family established the Herschell Lee Hamilton Endowed Medical Scholarship in his honor during the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement in Birmingham.

Monday, June 19, 2017

One for the Record Books: The English Census

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy logoSearching for English ancestors? If you answered yes, make plans to attend One for the Record Books: The English Census on Saturday, June 24, 2017, at 10:00 a.m., in the Arrington Auditorium.

"If you trace your family history far enough in this country, the time comes when you have to look in other countries. Lots of people in this part of the U.S. have English ancestors,” said Mary Anne Ellis, a librarian in the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department and the instructor for this Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop.

You might have been asked if you have “crossed the pond” in your genealogy research. The phrase “crossing the pond” means that you have completed your research in the United States and are now looking for ancestors in Europe. Genealogists know that moving to another country can mean starting over in discovering how to use standard and incredibly crucial sources like the census. There are some important differences between the U.S. Federal Census and its English cousin. This Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop will show you how to navigate this important information source.

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy 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, email askgenlocal@bham.lib.al.us, or online through the library's calendar.

Department of Defense Pocket Guides

by Mary Beth Newbill, Head of Government Documents and Southern History Department
Greece Pocket Guide Being Measured
American soldiers deployed overseas would often find themselves in countries that were unfamiliar to them and whose history and customs they had no knowledge of. In order to help service men and women become more comfortable in their new homes, the Department of Defense published a series of "pocket guides." Measuring 5 ½" x 4 ¼", these little guides are packed with information.

The library has about 40 of these pocket guides and they can be found in the Government Documents Department. The collection includes guides from Alaska and Hawaii that were published in 1956, three years before both territories were granted statehood. Especially interesting is the guide for Vietnam, published in 1971 when the Vietnam War was far from being resolved. Other guides include Germany, Italy, Greece, French Morocco, the Middle East, Korea, and the Arctic, to name a few.

Hawaii Pocket GuideVietnam Pocket Guide

Germany Pocket Guide
Mostly published in the 1950s through the 1980s, each guide presents the soldier with a surprisingly detailed history of the country of their deployment and includes helpful advice about the country's economy, society, religion, and government. Always respectful in tone, the guides emphasize the people of each country. Most of them go into great detail about family life and social customs. They even include instructions on what to do if invited into someone's home (always remove your shoes if invited into a home in Okinawa and offer enthusiastic and detailed compliments when invited to a Moroccan home). All of the guides include a section with common phrases and their pronunciations. Even the guide to the United Kingdom includes a British to American vocabulary with definitions for British terms such as chips, lorry, and zed (French fries, truck, and the letter "z," respectively).

Not only is the factual information found in the pocket guides interesting, they also provide us with a look at the manners and social customs that were the norm for each country at the time the guide was published. By including such information, we are able to learn what our soldiers were taught and how they were expected to behave while representing the United States on foreign soil.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

New Urban Fiction

It has been a while since I've blogged about Urban Fiction.  The genre is still as hot as the weather outdoors.  A lot of new titles have been released just in time for summer.  Here is a sample of titles released in May and June.  Descriptions are from the publisher.

Watch Out for the Big Girls 3 Watch Out for the Big Girls 3  by J.M. Benjamin
Starrshma Fields is officially back on the scene, with the intent of returning to the head of the Double Gs organization with a new game plan. After a close call, she is all too eager to put into motion the plan she conjured up while in custody at the Clark County Jail. However, she is clueless as to all that has been going on while she's been out of the loop.  Queen Fem is uneasy behind the mess that her protege has brought to the doorstep of the organization that she founded. It has been a long time since she has had to make a tough decision, but she feels her hand is being forced. She is unsure whether the Double Gs need to be under new leadership, and whether Starr should step down.

Hustling on the Down Low 

Hustling on the Down Low  by M.T. Pope
In the violent criminal underworld, there is no room for weakness, so the idea of a growing gay mafia in Baltimore is rejected by most people. That doesn't stop kingpin Avery Nelson from striving to come out on top in his battle against Leroy Grant. Avery has faced adversity most of his life, and being a gay black male only adds fuel to the fire already burning within him.  Leroy Grant does not want to see a gay man in charge, especially since in his mind, he is supposed to be where Avery is. A hatred grows inside of him with every mention of Avery and the moves he's making in the streets. Now Leroy's singular mission is to take the top spot for himself. With so much violence and hate, there is no way to tell who will be Baltimore's kingpin and who will be headed to the pen. 

Charisma: Baller's Wife  
Charisma:  Baller's Wife  by Nikki Turner
Charisma Bland was born and raised in the heart of Baltimore, where she learns that a moment's pleasure can sometimes lead to a life of pain. Against her better judgment, she has a one-night stand that changes her life forever. Turning over the family business to her cousin, she leaves behind her past. Charisma moves to Miami, where she meets Mr. Manny Manifesto, aka Mr. Baseball. Manny is coming off his best season ever, bringing with him a freshly inked 250-million-dollar-plus contract. After a chance meeting, Charisma sees an opportunity to start anew, and she and Manny attempt to build a relationship. The sex might be good, but will their omissions and the deeds of their past come back to haunt them?

Can't Stop 
Can't Stop  by Clifford "Spud" Johnson
Jason Gaines, better known as Hot Shot, has just buried his mother, father, and little brother after a home invasion. Now the only thing on his mind is finding the people responsible and punishing them severely for taking all that he cared for in this world. Before he can take action, he has to get his money right, and that means turning up his hustle. So, it's off to Dallas, Texas to get money from the streets. He has the connects to give him everything from drugs to weapons. His hustle has to remain on point so he can then redirect his focus on finding the people who murdered his family. Texas is his first stop, but it damn sure won't be his last. He's on a mission, and he Can't Stop!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Raptors Program at Springville Road on June 23

by Samuel Rumore, Circulation Manager, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

On Friday, June 23, 2017, the Springville Road Regional Branch Library will have a Raptor 101 program at 4:00 p.m. The program is free and open to all ages, but registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call the Springville Road Youth Department at 205-226-4085.

The Alabama Wildlife Center out of Pelham, Alabama, will provide raptors and other birds of prey for patrons of all ages to examine, interact with, and explore. The Alabama Wildlife Center is Alabama’s oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation facility. It has been around since 1977. If you know of any wildlife that needs rescuing or rehabilitating, please contact them at 205-663-7930 ext. 2 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, seven days a week.

Three-Part Seminar Series, Using Google to Grow Your Business, to be Held at Central Library in June, July, and August

by Jim Murray, Department Head, Business, Science and Technology Department

What: Using Google to Grow Your Business Three-Part seminar series
When: Thursday June 29, 2017 – "Let’s Put Birmingham on the Map with Google"
Thursday July 20, 2017 – "Google Insights and Analytics"
Thursday August 17, 2017 – "Getting Started with Social Media and Email Marketing"
Time: 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: Free but registration is required

The Central Library will host a series of three seminars for small business owners titled Using Google to Grow Your Business on the following Thursdays: June 29, July 20, and August 17. Each seminar will cover a different topic related to Google applications that can be used by small business owners to improve their online performance. The three seminars are: "Let’s Put Birmingham on the Map with Google," "Google Insights and Analytics," and "Getting Started with Social Media and Email Marketing." All sessions will be held from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. in the Central Library's Regional Library Computer Center, located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Building. The seminar series is sponsored by the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development and Zeekee, a local digital marketing agency. The program presenters will be Zeekee’s marketing and IT specialists.

The seminars are free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, please contact Andy Mayo in the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development by phone at 205-254-2774 or by email at Andy.Mayo@birminghamal.gov.

Zeekee started in 2003 as a small business and has since grown into a full-fledged internet marketing agency with services that include website development, graphic design, internet marketing and website support. They have developed and supported over 2,000 websites and countless campaigns for their clients in all industries from local startups to international Fortune 500 companies. Zeekee has offices in Birmingham and Fairhope, AL.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Girl Scouts, Camp Fletcher, and the Ku Klux Klan

Talking with patrons about their research is one of my favorite things as you can learn something odd, new, different, or something that is now forgotten yet an important event in history. That was the case when I was helping David Kelley of WBRC Fox 6 with our digital microfilm scanner earlier this month. Local media often come in to use the library’s collection of newspaper microfilm, and he was researching a story about the Girl Scouts, Camp Fletcher, and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) for Fox 6’s new TV show, Bounce Around Birmingham.

In June 1948, two white Girl Scout instructors, Katrine Nickel and Elizabeth Ijams, came to Camp Pauline Bray Fletcher, an African American camp, to teach leadership training sessions for about 20 African American girls. Because there were no qualified African American women to conduct similar leadership training sessions, Nickel and Ijams came down from Memphis to train these African American women. The Girl Scout leaders claimed they had segregated bath and sleeping facilities but did have to share the toilet facilities.

Word of the white Girl Scout instructors’ presence reached the Ku Klux Klan, who felt it was not proper for white women to be working and living within the boundaries of an African American camp, and decided to conduct a night raid to frighten Nickel and Ijams into leaving camp. According to Katrine Nickel, between 8 to 10 robed, masked men entered their tent, woke them up, shined flashlights in their faces, rifled through their purses and belongings, and ordered them to get out within 24 hours. As a result of the threat, Camp Fletcher closed and sent everyone home. E.P. Pruitt, president of the Birmingham’s Ku Klux Klan, released a statement denying the involvement of the Klan in the Camp Pauline Bray Fletcher incident, but the description of the attackers left little doubt in most people’s minds that the raid was the work of the Klan.

Girl Scouts Demand Justice

In the aftermath of the incident, the Jefferson County Girl Scout Council asked for an investigation both by local law enforcement and the FBI. The Negro Citizens Defense Committee petitioned Governor Jim Folsom and Attorney General A.A. Carmichael to protect the African American community in the wake of increased violence in Birmingham. There had been a similar incident at Camp Blossom Hill, as well as the deaths of six African Americans allegedly at the hands of the police. Attorney Abe Berkowitz asked the Alabama’s Attorney General A.A. Carmichael to revoke the Ku Klux Klan’s charter. Local businessmen founded Citizens Against Mobism (CAM) in 1949 to advocate for an anti-masking law by curtailing the influence of the KKK from their mask of anonymity.

Public outcry and negative national press helped encourage action against the Ku Klux Klan. A year later, the Alabama legislature passed the first anti-masking law which made it a misdemeanor to appear in public wearing a mask. It carried a $500 fine or one year in jail for violation. It was the first anti-masking law enacted in the Deep South since Reconstruction and weakened the power of the Ku Klux Klan.

Tune in on Monday, June 19, at 6:00 p.m., to watch this story be featured on Fox 6’s new show, Bounce Around Birmingham, which showcases compelling stories that impact the African American community. Bounce Around Birmingham will air every Monday on the Bounce TV Channel 6.2 at 6:00 p.m.

Book Review:The Country Waif

by David Blake, Department Head, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Country Waif
Georges Sand

In Swann’s Way Marcel Proust’s grandmother buys The Country Waif for young Marcel because she would not want to give him anything that was not well written. His grandmother was right. George Sand’s writing is extraordinary. The Country Waif reads like a folk tale with edges worn like an old stone memorial tablet, which retains the power to arouse the powerful emotions of a story told by flickering firelight.

Readers of Victor Hugo’s contemporaneous Les Miserables will be familiar with the plight of the thousands and thousands of homeless children in mid-nineteenth century Paris. Homeless children in rural France were waifs, and, like the gamins of Paris, they were despised. The Country Waif is the story of Francois, a waif, and the saintly Madeline, the miller’s wife, who secretly saves him from starvation in a peasant society where even a bowl of soup is missed.

The Country Waif is set in the countryside of Barry, where Sand lived as a child and where she summered with Frederic Chopin during the nine years of their affair. It stimulates the high emotion of its romantic era, and pays convincing respect to the folk writing so prized at the time, but its pastoral realism links it to the later urban realism of Emile Zola.

Like Jane Austen, Georges Sand had to contend with a world that did not take women’s intellectual achievements seriously. Georges Sand is a nom de plume taken on in order to get works published and read. And, like Austen’s novels, The Country Waif is, in part, a story about women, written by a woman, but the reader will be taken by the contrast between Austen’s novels of manners and Sand’s short romantic jewel.

Book Review: Lenin on the Train

by David Ryan, Librarian, Business Science and Technology Department

Lenin on the Train
Catherine Merridale

This is the centenary anniversary of the Russian Revolution. As you can imagine, publishers have responded with dozens of titles about this world-changing event. Lenin on the Train focuses on one seemingly mundane incident: a Russian exile returning to his homeland on a train. However, the completion of his eight-day trip across Russia is the catalyst for the rise of Communism.

In 1917 the First World War raged with mechanized savagery previously unseen by mankind. Both the Allies and the Central Powers swayed between defeat and victory. Millions had already perished. With the impending arrival of the United States into the fray, an allied victory seemed assured. The "desperate" Germans (James Joyce’s word, not mine) sent a revolutionary named V.I. Lenin from his exile in Switzerland back home to Russia via train.

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, a.k.a. Lenin, was simply one political theorist among many Russian rabble rousers surviving exile by printing newspapers promising utopia, and soliciting aid from wealthy fellow exiles. The Germans, however, were hoping that Lenin would prove to be less a man of theory, and more a man of practice. They were hoping his fiery speeches would actually foment strikes, protests, and possibly worse. Ultimately, the German’s wish was fulfilled; the already faltering Russian Army ground to a halt. Russia withdrew from the war and signed a separate peace treaty. The Germans were able to transfer their forces from the Eastern Front to the West. The war dragged on.

Catherine Merridale's choice of details and her storytelling acumen is what brings an essentially political story to life. She brings the eight-day train ride of Lenin’s revolutionary group from Zurich to Petrograd (St. Petersburg) to life with descriptions of political machinations and beautiful images of the countryside through a speeding train window.

Critics love Merridale’s book and it’s easy to see way. The Russian Revolution is an inherently complex topic. Yet, she gives us a very readable, albeit, abbreviated version of events. When you put the book down, you understand not only the motives of many of the players who took part in the Russian Revolution, but also how Lenin survived and ultimately succeeded. In high school I found the political maneuverings of Anarchists, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, White Russians, English spies, and German spies utterly confusing, but she does a wonderful job of making it all understandable.

She’s also a talented writer with a real knack for finding just the right scene, or contemporary quote which perfectly describes the geography or the politics of Europe then and now. At one point Lenin’s train passed close to the Arctic Circle. She writes that “the forest was so close the observant members of the group might have glimpsed deer and Arctic hares, perhaps a red fox slipping home. There were more elk than people here.”

But at its heart this is not a travel book. This is a book about politics, revolution, war, and freedom lost to terror. Merridale quotes Winston Churchill who said, “they transported Lenin in a sealed truck [sic] like a plague bacillus from Switzerland to Russia.” And the philosophy of Lenin did go on to infect not only Russia, but dozens of other countries. “…no statue, song or festival could capture the ambition of [Lenin’s] dream, and none could blot the bloodstains from its execution…the system he created was a stifling, cruel, sterile one, a workshop for decades of tyranny.”