Friday, February 23, 2018

BPL’s 2018 Mock Trial Program Underway at Central Library

For five weeks nearly 20 teens who love to argue or geek out on justice have listened intently at the Central Library as professional lawyers explained the ins-and-outs of the legal profession.

On Thursday, February 23, the teens learned how to interview their witnesses on the stand. On Thursday, March 1, they’ll gain tips on how to cross-examine a witness. Welcome to the 2018 version of the Birmingham Public Library's Mock Trial Program, which debuted at the Central Library a year ago and was held again last fall at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.

The free workshops are held in the Central Library’s Teen Zone on Thursdays from 4:00-5:30 p.m. They are designed to introduce students from grades 6-12 in metro Birmingham to the critical thinking and advocacy skills utilized in courtroom trials. The program began on January 25 and will conclude on March 22, 2018, when the students conduct a mock trial at the Jefferson County Courthouse across the street from the Central Library.

During preparation each week, students are learning to play the roles of a judge, defense lawyers and prosecutors, witnesses, and other courtroom roles. At the conclusion of the mock trial, a jury will deliberate and return with a verdict. The Mock Trial Program is a partnership between the Birmingham Public Library, the Northern District of Alabama’s U.S. Public Defender’s Office, and the Birmingham Bar Foundation. For information call Lance Simpson at 205-226-3671 or email him at

Here is a description of the last four weeks of the Mock Trial sessions:
Week 6.Witness Examinations-Cross (Thursday, March 1)
Week 7. Closing Arguments and Mock Trial Preparation (Thursday, March 8)
Week 8. Mock Trial Preparation (Thursday, March 15)
Week 9. Mock Trial (Thursday, March 22 at a Jefferson County courtroom)

Visit BPL Flickr to see photographs from previous mock trial programs.

Learn More About the Black Panther Universe through Graphic Novels Available at Birmingham Public Library

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

The movie Black Panther hit theaters last week as a full-blown cultural event, breaking box office records and garnering widespread critical acclaim. The film is also introducing new audiences to a seminal character in popular culture, the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics, dating back to 1966. Check out these Black Panther titles for all ages available from BPL:

Titles for Adults and Teens
Black Panther: The Complete Collection. Volume 1-4 by Christopher Priest
Black Panther: Who Is the Black Panther by Reginald Hudlin
Black Panther Epic Collection: Panther's Rage by Don McGregor with Stan Lee
Black Panther: Panther's Quest by Don McGregor
Black Panther & the Crew: We Are the Streets by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey
Black Panther. A Nation Under Our Feet. Books One-Eight by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Stan Lee Presents Black Panther: The Client by Christopher Priest
Captain America/Black Panther. [1]: Flags of Our Fathers by Reginald Hudlin
Storm by Eric Jerome Dickey

Titles for Children
Black Panther: The Junior Novel adapted by Jim McCann
Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith

Black Panther titles are also available instantly online in our Hoopla collections!

Playaway Launchpads—A Success

by Karnecia Williams, Inglenook Branch Library

The Playaway Launchpads have become very popular resources at Inglenook K8 School, particularly among special education teachers. Inglenook K8 School special education teachers have found that the Playaway Launchpads that specifically focus on core subjects such as reading and math have been most useful for a plethora of reasons. One reason favored by most teachers is having more availability to provide individual attention to students, while students using the Playaway Launchpads are provided with the reinforcement and reiteration of learning. Launchpads also introduce or reiterate a level of technology that is fun, engaging, and highly achievable providing students with a great sense of accomplishment. Teachers have even reported the satisfaction that students experience when they have completed a task or have won a game on the Playaway Launchpads. Moreover, teachers benefit greatly from the Playaway Launchpads and continue to express appreciation for how their instructional practices have improved overall.

Though teachers at Inglenook K8 School found them extremely valuable, there are 39 Playaway Launchpads in the Birmingham Public Library system that are available to all patrons from different ages and educational levels; some are even considered to be exclusively for leisure. Check the JCLC catalog for a list of Playaway Launchpads available throughout the Birmingham Public system and check one out!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Teens Engineer BHM March-May Workshop Dates Available

Teens in the 2017 robotics summer camp at the Central Library designed, built,
programmed, and raced robots

The new schedule for Teens Engineer BHM for March/April/May is available. More spring/summer dates will be added later, so check the BPL events calendar for updates. Check the BPL website for branch locations.

Saturday, March 3, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Powderly Branch Library
Tuesday, March 6, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Thursday, March 8, 4:00-5:30 p.m., North Birmingham Regional Branch Library
Thursday, March 15, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Woodlawn Branch Library
Tuesday, March 20, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Avondale Regional Branch Library
Thursday, March 22, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Ensley Branch Library
Tuesday, April 3, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Inglenook Branch Library
Thursday, April 5, 4:00-5:30 p.m., North Avondale Branch Library
Tuesday, April 10, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Powderly Branch Library
Thursday, April 12, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Smithfield Branch Library
Tuesday, April 17, 4:00-5:30 p.m., West End Branch Library
Thursday, April 19, 4:00-5:30 p.m., North Birmingham Regional Branch Library
Tuesday, May 1, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Southside Branch Library
Thursday, May 3, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Powderly Branch Library

Teens Engineer BHM is an ongoing program that focuses on middle and high school students with an interest in math and science. The program was formed as the result of BPL teen librarian Lance Simpson’s partnership with the UAB School of Engineering. BPL was awarded the UAB Benevolent Fund grant, which has helped to purchase computers and other supplies necessary for the success of the program.

Read more about the inception and success of the popular Teens Engineer BHM program at the Birmingham Public Library.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor Screening

What: Screening of Uncommon Grace: The Life of Flannery O'Connor; Q&A with filmmaker Bridget Kurt to follow
When: Saturday, March 24, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Arrington Auditorium
Admittance: Free and open to the public

Despite her premature death at age 39, Flannery O’Connor left behind one of the most haunting and strikingly original bodies of work in 20th century literature. With the rural South as her backdrop, she brought to life a string of eccentric characters torn between their worldly ambitions and the need for a more enduring truth. This film traces the people and events that shaped her remarkable career, as well as the important role that Catholicism played in her writing. Featuring expert commentary and rare photographs, Uncommon Grace will give you a new appreciation for this highly celebrated, yet often misunderstood, storyteller.

The screening of Uncommon Grace will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Bridget Kurt.

Meet the team at Beata Productions
"Uncommon Grace: Flannery On Film." An interview with Bridget Kurt, producer/director of the first film about the life of Flannery O’Connor. Deep South Magazine. May 5, 2016

Monday, February 19, 2018

Kanopy's Special Black History Month Collection Highlights African American Struggles and Achievements

Kanopy's special Black History Month collection of independent movies and documentaries runs the gamut of African American interests, including topics on history, music, the arts, racism, media representation, identity in the African American community, and many more. The 368-video collection is easily searchable by subject, filmmaker, year, and popularity. See the entire list here.

Kanopy is a video streaming platform for libraries with one of the largest collections in the world—over 30,000 films. The films are more typically educational in nature, what Kanopy likes to call  "thoughtful entertainment," providing patron access to films of social and cultural importance.

Kanopy is available to Birmingham residents with a JCLC library card. 

Southern History Book of the Month: Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama: A Resource Guide
Frazine K. Taylor
Foreword by Dr. James M. Rose

Researching your family history can be complex at the best of times, but finding information on certain types of ancestors can present extra challenges. It is often difficult to track down records on African American ancestors, especially if they were enslaved and did not enjoy legal status as human beings; the typical paper trail is missing and you may require special resources. Frazine Taylor’s Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama can guide you to collections and strategies that you might have overlooked in your search.

One common genealogical resource is the U.S. Federal Census, but did you know that a state census can be helpful to you as well?
The Alabama Constitution of 1865 required the taking of a census of the inhabitants of the state in 1866. All heads of households were counted . . . The census taker had to classify the whole population into two classes: black and white (the black included all persons of color). Each class was then subdivided into male and female, according to age, so that the enumeration showed how many of each class were under ten, how many between ten and twenty, between twenty and thirty, and so forth. The Alabama 1866 Census is significant for African Americans in Alabama and may be the only place African American’s can be found before the next census in 1870.
So the answer to your brick wall may be on a state or local level. Or if you have an enslaved ancestor, finding information on that person could involve tracking the movements of the slaveholder and studying migration patterns. Military records can also be useful, since African Americans have played their part in American wars from the Revolution to the present day.

One chapter that really caught my attention was the one on the importance of oral history; this instantly calls to mind the slave interviews carried out by the Federal Writers’ Project in the 1930s. Collecting oral history—those “family stories”—is just as relevant now but can be full of pitfalls, and there are guidelines in this chapter for how to conduct an oral history interview.

Another very useful feature of Taylor’s book is a listing of resources held by various Alabama counties. The section for each county includes contact information for the probate judge offices, research support groups in the area, and types of records held such as deeds and wills, Orphan Court records, dower records, and probate court minutes.

Even though Researching African American Genealogy in Alabama is around ten years old, it is still an excellent guidebook. If you are interested in finding out more about African American genealogy research and would like to meet Ms. Taylor, don’t miss the Beyond the Basics of Genealogy class coming up at Birmingham Public Library. Frazine Taylor and Donna Cox Baker of Alabama Heritage magazine will present “The Beyond Kin Project: Making the Slave Connection” on Sunday, February 25, 2:30-4:00 p.m., in Central Library's Arrington Auditorium. This program promises to be a fascinating look at plantation genealogy research, so if you are interested, sign up to reserve your spot by calling 205-226-3665 or register through the BPL events calendar. Don’t miss out on this exciting new resource.

For further information:
Frazine Taylor on Facebook
Frazine Taylor on The Beyond Kin Project
Donna Cox Baker on The Beyond Kin Project
African American Research Sources at Alabama State University
Frazine Taylor at Alabama Bound 2009
Frazine Taylor at IGHR
Birmingham Public Library Tips for African-American Genealogical Research

Friday, February 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Free Computer Classes in March at Central Library

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

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

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

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

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

by Amanda Jenkins, Titusville Branch Library

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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