Monday, September 25, 2017

Smithfield Library Hosting Free ACT Test Prep and Tutoring Classes for Students

Do you need to improve your ACT score? Can you benefit from some free tutoring? Then take advantage of two free programs the Smithfield Branch Library is offering to help Birmingham area students do better on tests.

On Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., the Smithfield Library is offering free practice tests through its online database for students desiring to be more effective in taking ACT tests. For the ACT Prep, students are welcome to bring in their laptop computers, or they can use Smithfield’s public computers, said Heather McWilliams, branch manager at Smithfield Library.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m., the Smithfield Library is offering Power Hour, free tutoring for elementary students (Tuesdays) and middle school students (Thursdays). The Power Hour tutoring sessions are led by Cordarell Suggs, a part-time Library Assistant III at Smithfield Library.

Advance registration is required. Register online through the Birmingham Public Library events calendar, or call the Smithfield Library at 205-324-8428.

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for October 2 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business seminar
When: Monday, October 2, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: Registration required

The Birmingham Public Library, in conjunction with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development, will again be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business, from June to November 2017. The final seminar for fall 2017 is scheduled for November 6. 

Each seminar will cover the same topics, but those who are interested are welcome to attend more than one day. Topics covered will include crafting a vision statement, identifying sources of funding, determining the legal structure of your business, devising a business plan, and investigating sources of business and economic information. Please register for the seminars by contacting Andy Mayo in the Economic Development Office at or 205-254-2774.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the local chapter of SCORE. SCORE is a national nonprofit association consisting of volunteers with business skills and experience who want to share their knowledge with prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners. For over 50 years, SCORE mentors have helped millions of Americans start and grow their own businesses.

For further information about the seminars or about resources available at the Birmingham Public Library relating to small business development, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or by phoning 205-226-3691.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Best Sellers Club Revisions

In order to keep the Best Sellers Club relevant and up-to-date, some authors are being dropped from the list. Some of the authors being removed are deceased, and some are either no longer publishing new fiction books in hardcover or do not publish frequently enough.

Authors Added
Jeffrey Archer
C. J. Box
Dan Brown
Lee Child
Laura Childs
Nelson DeMille
Heather Graham
Kristin Hannah
Elin Hilderbrand
Susan Mallery
Jo Nesbo
Thomas Perry
Lynsay Sands
Daniel Silva
Authors Removed
Maeve Binchy
Lilian Jackson Braun
Pearl Cleage
Jackie Collins
Martha Grimes
E. Lynn Harris
Donna Hill
R. M. Johnson
Stuart Kaminsky
Tim LaHaye
Elmore Leonard
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
John Saul

But what exactly is the club all about?
The Best Sellers Club is the easiest way to get the latest releases from your favorite fiction authors. We automatically place reserves for you and let you know when the new title is ready for pickup. It's just that simple!

So how do you join the Best Sellers Club or add/change your favorite author list?
You can fill out a new Best Sellers Club form at your favorite Birmingham Public Library location, or join online at Email additions/changes to

See? Quick and easy! No wonder the Best Sellers Club has been a favorite of Birmingham residents for over 17 years!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Archives Department Closed to the Public September 25-October 9, 2017

Due to maintenance on the heating and air system, the Birmingham Public Library Archives and Manuscripts Department will be closed to the public September 25-October 9, 2017.

We recommend checking the BPL website after October 9 to be sure the work has been completed on schedule.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Exercise Your Brain

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

Exercise is good for the body, so it makes sense that exercise would be good for the brain too. Research suggests that challenging your brain with puzzles may help to improve and maintain brain health. In the Avondale Library Adult Department, we’ve set up “Exercise Your Brain” stations with free, fun puzzles to give your brain a workout. Drop by anytime—new puzzles are added weekly. It’s just another way that visiting the library is good for your brain!

Titusville Library Knitting Group

by Amanda Jenkins, Titusville Branch Library

In a world in which technology is so prevalent, it’s important to participate in activities that engage your mind without the use of electronics. Taking up a craft is an excellent way to pass the time, while creating something that yourself or others can use or appreciate. That’s why the knitting/crocheting group meets at the Titusville Library every Thursday afternoon at 3:30. Anyone is welcome to attend, but you’ll need to bring your own supplies. If you’re brand-new to knitting or crocheting, our experienced group members can recommend which supplies are best. They’re passionate about their favorite hobby, and would love the opportunity to connect with other individuals who have an interest in this area. All ages are welcome to attend these meetings, and all skill levels from beginners to seasoned crafters are encouraged to participate. Come join the fun!

Southern History Book of the Month: In the Path of the Storms: Bayou La Batre, Coden, and the Alabama Coast

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

In the Path of the Storms: Bayou La Batre, Coden, and the Alabama Coast
Frye Gaillard, Sheila Hagler, and Peggy Denniston

After several years of relatively tranquil weather during hurricane season, Harvey and Irma have served as brutal reminders of what an active season can do to our coastal areas and islands. In the Path of the Storms is a look at the devastation along the Alabama coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and focuses on the communities of Coden and Bayou La Batre.

Famous for its annual “Blessing of the Fleet,” Bayou La Batre has had plenty of hard experience with storms; nevertheless, Katrina took a heavy toll on the residents:
In the warm, open waters, it [Katrina] reached the status of a Category 5, sending a massive storm swell surging toward the coast. On August 29, 2005, the water came ashore in Bayou La Batre, and in the lore of that place, there were suddenly new stories of terror and survival. Sophol and Chandra Ngam remembered the steady rise of the flood, filling their houses, and still it wouldn’t stop. They waded ashore as the water kept coming, and kept getting deeper, and they knew that soon they would have to swim. But they didn’t know how, and neither did most of their seven children. They began to call out, “No can swim! No can swim!” and finally Ralph Harbison, a neighbor and volunteer fireman, appeared with a boat and carried them to safety.
The nearby community of Coden was likewise devastated, with flood waters forcing the residents from their homes. As a high school student, Coden resident Amber Hill wrote a haunting description of life in the aftermath of a natural disaster:
There was no running water, no gas, no power, and no way of keeping cool . . . My parents and I could not bathe and there was nothing to eat. We nearly starved . . . but food wasn’t our only concern. We had no place to call home anymore. Instead, we were forced to sleep in our old home where mold had begun to grow on the walls. Toward the end of the second week, I couldn’t hold back the tears.
It came as a big surprise to me to find out that Coden and the Bayou have large Asian communities, especially Vietnamese and numerous Cambodians who fled the murderous regime of the Khmer Rouge in their native country. Catastrophe is nothing new to them. Koan Ang, a teacher’s aide in the Mobile County school system, recollects that she and her family escaped from Cambodia when her daughter was only fifteen days old, and that affects her response to life after Katrina:
Some still live in FEMA trailers, even after all this time. But I feel we will still keep going and build back this place. In Cambodia, I lost forty-two people in my family during the war. It was a true killing field—forty-two killed in one night. My sister, brother, nephew, all killed in one night. I was in the hospital. I could not control myself. I had lost too much for one time, and it broke my nerves. But I am fine right now.
What problems we have now, we have to compare them to that.
In the Path of the Storms is a sobering reminder of how quickly lives can be changed—or wiped out altogether—but it’s also a testament to courage and the spirit of communities that pick up the pieces and go on.

For further information:
Bayou La Batre and the Blessing of the Fleet
Bayou La Batre: Stories of a Seafood Town
Coden and Bayou La Batre after Katrina
Hurricane Safety Resources
“Remarkable” 2017 Hurricane Season

Friday, September 15, 2017

Television Shows Based on Books

Three of my absolute favorite television shows are based on books. When it comes to movies, I have found that reading the book first tends to ruin the movie for me.  The books provide a much greater amount of detail and are better able to flesh out the characters and the story. Reading the book also allows you to picture all of the characters in your mind.  Two specific films I remember being disappointed with were The Firm (John Grisham) and Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice).  Simply because of the length of the movies, it was necessary for them to exclude a lot of the details from the books and I didn’t envision Tom Cruise in the lead role in either.  Consequently, or perhaps due to laziness, I have not read the books that these television series are based on.

Shooter (Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter) – USA Network

Point of Impact by Stephen HunterRyan Phillipe stars as Bob Lee Swagger, a marine sniper who is adapting to civilian life in the States after serving for many years.  He is contacted by his former commanding officer, now a Secret Service agent, who seeks his help after learning that there is a plot to assassinate the President.  As a patriot and expert sniper, Swagger agrees to assist in thwarting the assassination attempt, only to discover that he is being set up to take the fall.  The show unfolds as Bob Lee, now a fugitive, seeks to protect his family, find the real shooter, and clear his name.  The book was also adapted into a film starring Mark Wahlberg. 

13 Reasons Why (Jay Asher) – Netflix

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherHigh-school student, Clay Jensen, receives a box of cassettes recorded by his classmate Hannah Baker, who recently committed suicide.  The cassettes reveal the series of events that lead up to her death.  Clay discovers that many of his classmates who are mentioned on the tapes have already listened to them and are paranoid about what he will do with the information.  The sensitivity of the topic and the quality of the acting make for stunning, powerful, and eye-opening television.  Despite the disturbing nature of the events that unfold, you can’t wait to watch the next episode.  I must admit that I did have to pause one episode to regroup before I could continue.   

Bosch (Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly) – Amazon Prime

The Harry Bosch Novels by Michael ConnellyHarry Bosch, played by Titus Welliver, is a Los Angeles homicide detective who has a reputation for going the “extra mile” to solve cases.  This gains him the respect of his fellow police officers, but often lands him in court on charges of excessive force.  Bosch, the son of a prostitute, has spent most of his police career searching for her killer.  His experience growing up as an orphan along with the time he spent in Special Forces in Vietnam has shaped him into the tough, complex, justice-seeking police officer he has become.  Throw in his love of jazz, his teenage daughter, and his ex-wife (former FBI profiler and professional poker player) and this is so much more than a typical cop show.  The cases are intense, the characters are three-dimensional, and the jazz is exquisite.

Event on Comforting Families after Tragedies to Be Held September 23 Next to West End Library

What: Inspire Birmingham – Comforting and Encouraging Your Family Featuring Minister Charlie L. Holley
When: Saturday, September 23, 10:00 a.m.-2:00  p.m.
Where: 1348 Tuscaloosa Ave. SW in lot between West End Branch Library and Cahaba Health Clinic
Details: Join us for an informative and entertaining presentation geared towards families. Family members will be taught how to comfort and encourage each other. Charlie L. Holley’s books will be for sale at a discounted rate of $5.

A Birmingham couple who lost their 13-year-old son from a heart condition will be hosting an event designed to help families cope with tragedy and hard times on Saturday, September 23, 2017, next to the West End Branch Library.

Inspire Birmingham – Comforting and Encouraging Your Family Featuring Minister Charlie L. Holley will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00  p.m at 1348 Tuscaloosa Ave. SW in a lot between the West End Library and Cahaba Health Clinic. During this informative presentation, family members will be taught how to comfort and encourage each other in times of trial.

Inspire Birmingham is being sponsored by Birmingham City Councilor Sheila Tyson and Alabama State Rep. John Rogers Jr. of Birmingham. The event is being organized by CL Holley Ministries Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization founded by Charlie and his wife, Cassandra Holley, four years after the tragic death of their 13-year-old son Torrell. While on his last day of basketball tryouts at school, Torrell suddenly collapsed from cardiac arrest and died moments later. The autopsy attributed the collapse to a rare heart condition called ARVD.

Though strong Christians, the couple and Torrell’s younger sister, Kiana, went through very difficult times. They experienced depression and anger, and doubted their faith. As they struggled to find some sense of peace and understanding, Charlie and Cassandra Holley began to notice others around them were also struggling with their own life-altering issues.

Charlie Holley began to write as a way of expressing his struggles and to help others. His first book, When Flowers Fade: Finding Hope After the Death of a Loved One, was chosen for review by a publisher and is currently being re-written. Holley has since written four more books: Forgiveness: Walk Me Through It, The God of My Midnights, Whispers From My Father, and Daily Inspirations From the Scriptures.

Holley’s books will be available for sale at a discounted rate of $5 during the event. Read more about Holley at

Charlie and Cassandra Holley have found their purpose in life: to let others know there is life after tragedies. The couple has spoken before several organizations including churches, hospice, friends, and families who have lost loved ones to homicide.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Central Library to Host Informational Sessions on Miles College’s New Online Course Offerings

by Jim Murray, Business, Science and Technology Department

Representatives from Miles College will be presenting informational sessions regarding the college’s new online course offerings at the Central Library on three dates in September 2017. Topics to be covered in the sessions include the application process, course offerings, credit hours, tuition rates and fees, and financial aid.

What: Informational Sessions about new online course offerings at Miles College
When: Monday, September 18, 2017
Monday, September 25, 2017
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Time: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor

Miles began offering online programs in the summer 2017 term and programs will continue to be offered in subsequent terms. Currently, online classes are offered in the following subject areas: English, Accounting, Management, Criminal Justice, Political Science, Business Administration, and Computer and Information Sciences. The online offerings will provide students with greater convenience and flexibility in pursuing their studies by giving them the opportunity to complete course requirements at their own pace. Interested students can apply online through or call 205-929-1851 for further information.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Lady V’s Crochet Group at Ensley Library

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

On any given day at the Ensley Branch Library, we interact with patrons in a way that goes far deeper than books. Some of our patrons are regulars who come in and share life’s experiences and struggles, while some are more reserved and their communications linger just on the surface. So we thought that it would be helpful and therapeutic for our patrons to have the opportunity to come into the library, where crocheting is the focal point, and connect with others who may be feeling or experiencing some of the same things or different ones at that moment in their lives.

Many of our people in our community are living and coping with difficult situations and we can only hope that coming and talking with others will provide some relief from the day-to-day issues of life. We anticipate that our members will appreciate the great aspects of group crocheting, such as teaching and learning together in the community and accessing deeper levels of friendship among one another. We also hope that, in one way or another, this group will inspire and encourage each other to make it through life’s challenges while crocheting a hat or two.

The crochet group is geared towards beginners and all are welcome. We will meet on Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and refreshments will be provided. The first class is scheduled to begin on September 19, 2017. We hope to see you there!

Free Chinese Language and Culture Classes Begin September 11 at Central Library

What: Chinese Language & Culture classes
When: Bi-weekly Mondays September 11-December 11, 2017
Time: 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Youth Department, Story Castle
Details: Free and open to all middle schoolers

Hey, Birmingham area middle schoolers. Want to learn about Chinese language and culture? Then take advantage of free bi-weekly afterschool classes being offered from September through December 2017 at the Central Library in downtown Birmingham.

The classes are being taught by Shuyin Rao of the Confucious Institute at Alabama A&M University, who is also an instructor at Shanghai Eastern Normal University. In addition to learning about Chinese language and culture, participants will learn various Chinese crafts, said Jiemin Fan, head of the Central Library’s Information Circulation Department.

The class schedule is as follows (Mondays from 3:45-4:30 p.m.):
September 11
September 25
October 9
October 23
November 13
November 27
December 11

For more information about the classes, call Youth Department head Vincent Solfronk at 205-226-3651.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Crash Course in Family History

Family Tree
Researching your family history is one of the fast growing hobbies in the United States, and DNA testing has opened new avenues of research. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone to help you get started in research your family history? The answer is the Southern History Department, who has one of the best genealogy collections in the United States.

This September, the Southern History Department is offering a “crash course” covering everything from, genetic DNA testing, and other genealogy databases to get you started in genealogical research.

Introduction to Genealogy- Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. No registration required.

  • Monday, September 11th, 10-11 am, Vestavia Hills Library 
  • Tuesday, September 12th, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, Southern History Department, 1st floor, Linn-Henley building 
  • Sunday, September 24th, 2:30-3:30 pm, Southern History Department, 1st floor, Linn-Henley building 
Jump Into the Gene Pool: Genetics and Your Family History- Discover how genetic research can help you explore your family history. Find out what a gene sample can tell you about what parts of the world your ancestors came from and more. No registration required.

  • Thursday, September 14th, 10-11 am, Birmingham Public Library, Powderly Branch 
The Bases Are Loaded! Genealogical Research with BPL’s Databases- Don’t be left sitting in the dugout. Make use of all our resources in your game plan for family history research. Learn how to locate BPL’s databases and discover the wealth of genealogical information they have to offer. Let us help you knock one out of the park. To register, call the Computer Commons at 205-226-3680 or online.

  • Tuesday, September 19th, 10:30-11:30 am, Computer Lab, 4th floor, Linn-Henley building Library Edition- Participants will be introduced to the Library Edition database in which you can research your family history as well as learn how to search this database to locate your ancestors. You can register online, call us at 205-226-3665, or e-mail us at

  • Saturday, September 23rd, 10-11:30 am, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor, Linn-Henley building 
Have questions or want to register for one of these classes? Contact the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or e-mail us at  See you soon!

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