Sunday, November 30, 2014

BPL Closed November 27-30 for Thanksgiving Holiday

All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, November 27, through Sunday, November 30, for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Birmingham Public Library would like to thank you for your support throughout the year and wishes you and yours a safe, happy holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Springville Road Library's Holiday Craft Sale, December 7

Support your local crafters and the Springville Road Library!

So, it’s a month before Christmas and you still haven’t got your holiday shopping done? Don’t despair!

On Saturday, December 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., you can visit the Springville Road Library and shop our Holiday Craft Sale. We’ll have items for adults, teens, and children; for decorating, wearing, and practical use. Most of the items are made by hand (we’ll have some Trash and Treasure items that have been donated for the library sale table), and the sale supports the library craft and quilting programs. You can also meet some of the Coffee, Conversation & Craft participants who will be delighted to tell you about their creations. If you've ever wished you could sit in on an old-fashioned sewing bee, you’ll enjoy meeting these folks. There will be free demonstrations of crocheting, knitting, hand-quilting, loom knitting, tatting, and other crafts. If you see something you like and want to know how it was made, just ask! Come have a free cup of coffee or tea, visit with some of your neighbors, and learn from these experienced crafters. Items are priced to sell, with many bargains available.

On Sunday, December 7, visit the library from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. for our Holiday Open House. It’s our way of wishing our patrons a wonderful holiday season and letting them know how much we appreciate them. Refreshments will be served.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

November is Family Literacy Month

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald

Do you remember sitting with your parents when you were very young, listening to them read to you? Did you read back to them? You didn’t realize it at the time, but this interaction was family literacy, the practice of involving children and parents in developing reading skills and positive attitudes toward education.

Family literacy is a learning method that involves children and parents learning together. The parent becomes the advocate for the child’s education as he/she becomes more involved in the learning process.

A report done by Kent State University, “Family Literacy Programs: Who Benefits?” found that four groups benefit from family literacy programs: children, parents, families, and society. Among the many benefits of family literacy, children will improve their school achievements and reading skills, parents and families learn to value education, and society sees positive changes in low school achievement and high school dropout rates.

According to the U.S. Census table “A Child’s Day 2009: Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being,”
the South Region had the lowest number of average times read to a child per week: 7.5% (age 1 and 2 years) and 6.2% (age 3 to 5 years). The Northeast had the most, at 8.5% and 7.1%. Where a family lives is also significant. Nonmetropolitan areas had 8.1% for ages 1 and 2 and 6.5% for ages 3 to 5 years.

In the area of “Occupation,” Managerial/Professional had the most, with 9.1% and 7.0%, respectively. “Other” was 7.0% and 6.6%

More of these statistics may be accessed at –Topics-Families-Living Arrangements-Children

Related websites:
National Center for Families Learning
International Reading Association
The Literacy Council of Central Alabama

Michelle Andrews.
Government Documents
Central Library

Children's Book Review: Frostborn (Thrones and Bones #1)

Lou Anders

Frostborn is the first in a series of adventure books set in a Norse inspired fantasy realm complete with dwarves, giants, wyverns, and dragons. The book’s two young protagonists are each at odds with their place in the world (a feeling that young readers are sure to identify with). Karn is the firstborn son of his family. That means he is next in line to inherit the prestige and responsibility of his father’s position as hauld of the family farm. No one asked Karn if that’s what he wanted to do, if it were up to him he would travel the world and master his beloved board game, Thrones and Bones. But his birthright saddles him with responsibility beyond his years. Thianna is half giant and half human. She lives with her father in the mountains among full-blooded frost giants. At seven feet, Thianna is a dwarf in comparison to her full-blooded peers. She constantly feels like a misfit and is anxious to dismiss her human heritage on her mother’s side and live as a full giant, but nothing can change the fact that she is different.

These two cross paths when they accompany their fathers to the yearly trading event between giants and humans at an outpost between realms called Dragon’s Dance. They are the only young people among the traders, so they are often paired up while the adults conduct their business. Clever Karn and rambunctious Thianna don’t exactly get along, but they strike up a friendship nonetheless. When the trading has come to an end, both of the kids’ lives are turned upside down. Through different circumstances the two young heroes are forced to flee in order to save themselves and their family. They are brought back together by chance and make a great team despite their differences. These two go head to head with a dragon, undead henchmen, trolls, and more and they manage to come out unscathed. The story comes to a very satisfying conclusion, leaving no cliffhangers. It still left me wanting more, which is really the best way to end the first installment in a series.

This novel has much to offer to a variety of readers. It can appeal to both boys and girls, since the point of view switches from Thianna to Karn equally. It’s also a great pick for kids who enjoy fantasy movies like The Hobbit and even Frozen. It is a great middle grade read for upper elementary and middle school students, but it would make an excellent read-aloud for kids who aren’t ready to tackle it on their own yet. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The characters display growth, courage, brains, and resourcefulness that I think kids will identify with and hopefully emulate. Also, the author, Lou Anders, is a Birmingham resident. I love to support local authors, especially when their books are so good!

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Library

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Holiday Challenge

You've worked so hard throughout the year to reach your ideal weight and/or eat healthier and may still be working. You've forced yourself to get out of the bed to go to the gym in the wee hours of the morning, steered clear of junk food, and even exercised during your lunch break. You've overcome these challenges and more, but now comes your biggest challenges of the year: the holidays. With all the turkey and dressing, the pies and cakes, how do you maintain your goals for your weight and healthy eating habits? Well, check out the books below for alternative recipes and strategies that will help you maintain your goals. Happy Holidays!

The Healthy Home Cookbook: Diabetes-Friendly Recipes for the Holidays, Parties, and Everyday Celebrations
The South Beach Diet Parties & Holidays Cookbook: Healthy Recipes for Entertaining Family and Friends
Healthy Holidays: Total Health Entertaining All Year Round
Diabetic Recipes for the Holidays

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Library

Southern History Department's Book of the Month: Co. Aytch or A Side Show of the Big Show

Co. Aytch or A Side Show of the Big Show
By Sam R. Watkins

During these years marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War there has been renewed interest in personal narratives of the conflict. One of the best-known accounts was by Samuel Rush Watkins, who wrote his memoirs of the time he spent in the First Tennessee Infantry, Company H, also known as the Maury Greys. Watkins served throughout the war and was one of the very few survivors of his group; of all those who had enlisted with Company H, fewer than 10 were still alive at the time of General Johnston’s surrender to General Sherman. Watkins is certainly capable of dramatic recollections of the events that took such a heavy toll on his comrades, as in his memories of the horrific battle of Franklin, Tennessee:

“Forward, men! The air loaded with death-dealing missiles. Never on this earth did men fight against such terrible odds. It seemed that the very elements of heaven and earth were in one mighty uproar. Forward, men! And the blood spurts in a perfect jet from the dead and wounded. The earth is red with blood. It runs in streams, making little rivulets as it flows. Occasionally there was a little lull in the storm of battle, as the men were loading their guns, and for a few moments it seemed as if night tried to cover the scene with her mantle. The death-angel shrieks and laughs and old Father Time is busy with his sickle, as he gathers in the last harvest of death, crying, More, more, more! while his rapacious maw is glutted with the slain.”

However, Watkins is equally adept at humorous accounts of camp life and wry observations on his place as a common soldier:

“I always shot at privates. It was they that did the shooting and killing, and if I could kill or wound a private, why, my chances were so much the better. I always looked upon officers as harmless personages . . . If I shot at an officer, it was at long range, but when we got down to close quarters I always tried to kill those that were trying to kill me.”

Or there is his account of when he was promoted from private to corporal:

"Why, hello, corporal, where did you get those two yellow stripes from on your arm?"

"Why, sir, I have been promoted for gallantry on the battlefield, by picking up an orphan flag, that had been run over by a thousand fellows, and when I picked it up I did so because I thought it was pretty, and I wanted to have me a shirt made out of it."

There are many accounts of the Civil War by those who lived it, but few books will give a modern reader such a vivid picture of what it was like from day to day in the eyes of an ordinary soldier, albeit one with extraordinary powers of description. Come and have a look at our 1882 edition in Southern History, or check out one of the circulating copies in the system. Or take a look at the online version.

No matter which version you choose, make Sam’s acquaintance as soon as possible. For anyone with an interest in the Civil War, Co. Aytch is a must-read.

Mary Anne Ellis
Southern History Department

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Librarian's Guide to Holiday Travel

Holiday travel

The holidays can be a very stressful time, particularly if you are traveling for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  The weather is unpredictable, so traffic jams, flight delays, and cancellations are always possible.  Since I almost never travel during the holidays, I thought I would give you, the reading public, some advice on holiday travel.

Tip 1:  Leave early – If you are traveling by car from Birmingham to Cleveland, Ohio and you know that the family meal is at 3:00 pm, don’t wait until 10:00 am to leave Birmingham.  You cannot make it to Cleveland that fast, and if you can, don’t drive anywhere near me.   You will spend Thanksgiving in the pokey rather than at grandma’s house.  The same holds true for airline travel.  It takes time for the TSA to hold you upside down and shake everything out of your pockets, so arrive early enough to allow for that. 

Tip 2:  Put some gas in the car – If you only have a quarter tank of gas in the car and no money, please stay at home.  You may make it to the corner store and back, but that’s about it.  Your V8 does not get 100 miles per gallon. 

Tip 3:  Take some cash – You don’t have to take rubber-band stacks of cash like a hip-hop artist, but it’s a good idea to have some cash in case you need it.  That gas station with the one pump without a nozzle attached probably doesn’t accept American Express.  If the interstate sign says “gas” without a brand name, you may end up at the one-pump station.  

Tip 4:  Pack for the time you will be away – Don't give your relatives a heart attack by showing up with a U-Haul truck full of luggage.  They are happy to see you, but they do want you to leave.  

Tip 5:  Try to relax and enjoy it – If you have not laughed at Tips 1-4, you are already stressed out.  Holidays are supposed to be fun, not stressful, so enjoy yourself.  Keep in mind, I said SUPPOSED to be.  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Iron Bowl Madness

On Saturday, November 29, 2014, in my hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL,  the Alabama Crimson Tide will face the Auburn Tigers in the 79th Iron Bowl. Football is serious business in the state of Alabama, and it doesn't get any bigger or better than this. The Iron Bowl is a historic American college football game between the two largest public universities in the state of Alabama: The University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn University Tigers. Since 1893, the Iron Bowl has been one of the most heated rivalries in sports. The name of the Iron Bowl comes from Birmingham's historic role in the steel industry, since so many of the early games were played in Birmingham at the historic Legion Field.

The Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers have battled it out 78 times. Since 2000, the games alternate and are played at Jordan–Hare Stadium in Auburn every odd-numbered year, and Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa every even-numbered year. So far the Tide leads the series 42-35-1. The largest win occurred in 1948 when the Tide beat the Tigers 55-0. The longest winning streak is held by the Tide also. From 1973 to 1981 the Tide were victorious over the Tigers 9 straight times. The streak was ended in 1982 when Bo Jackson leaped over the top of Tide defenders to score the winning touchdown. Auburn won that year by a score of 23-22, breaking a 9-game winning streak held by the Tide.

So who are you pulling for? Who are you hoping to win? Who will have bragging rights for 1 year? Being a proud graduate of the University of Alabama (B.A. 1988/MLIS 1994), of course I want the Crimson Tide to win yet another game and add one more victory to an already uncatchable lead (that’s my opinion of course). So get your popcorn, pizza, or whatever you like to consume ready for Saturday November 29, 2014 (my birthday) for the 79th Iron Bowl.

If you would like to read more on the history of the Iron Bowl and the traditions of these two great schools, check out what books BPL has to offer on the two teams: Roll Tide! War Eagle!

Andrei Jones
Five Points West Library

Affordable Care Act Enrollment Workshops Scheduled for Selected Birmingham Public Libraries, December 1-January 12

Free Affordable Care Act enrollment sessions will be held at various Birmingham Public Library locations through January 2015. Trained officials with Birmingham Health Care, a nonprofit health organization, will lead the sessions. The enrollment period will be November 15, 2014 - February 15, 2015. Enrollment will be available during the library sessions. Future library sessions will be announced in early 2015.

The sessions will be held at these libraries on:

Monday, December 1, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Pratt City Library
Monday, December 1, 1:30-3:00 p.m., Smithfield Library
Tuesday, December 2, 9:00-11:30 a.m., Five Points West Library
Monday, December 8, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Avondale Library
Monday, December 8, 1:30-3:00 p.m., North Avondale Library
Monday, January 5, 2015, 9:00-11:00 a.m., North Birmingham Library
Monday, January 12, 2015, 1:00-3:30 p.m., North Birmingham Library

For more information about the Affordable Care Act, please visit or call Birmingham Health Care at 205-439-7217.

Coverage providers in Alabama are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have Yourself a Merry Little (Stress-Free) Christmas!

The holiday season can be stressful!

For most of us, life gets busier and costlier during the holiday season. The holidays can make some people depressed when they think of how the special day won't be shared with lost or absent loved ones. For others, the to-do list has gotten twice as long. And you may be spending more money than you want or are able, due to traveling or entertaining. And while there is a lot of pressure to make sure everyone's Christmas is perfect, it's the simple pleasures of the season that can remind you of the joy and wonder of Christmas and its traditions.

I invite you to share in the simple pleasures of the season by beginning with gratitude (look at all of the good you have in your life); set a budget (know exactly how much you are going to spend); buy gifts mindfully (don't purchase a gift for the sake of having something to give); plan something together as a family; visit shut-ins; send a letter or gift to a soldier (imagine being in Iraq, away from loved ones and the comfort of home). Reach out to someone lonely, enjoy each person's joy of giving and receiving, and, by all means, make Christmas day last.

Listed below are resources to assist in living a stress-free holiday season.

The Chew: a Year of Celebrations: Festive and Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion
Saving Dinner for the Holidays: Menus, Recipes, Shopping Lists, and Timelines for Spectacular, Stress-Free Holidays and Family Celebrations 
Dinner with the Smileys: One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for a Lifetime
Holidays: Recipes, Gifts and Decorations: Thanksgiving & Christmas: The Best of Martha Stewart Living
Southern Holidays
When Holidays Hurt
Creating the Happiest of Holidays
Light and Healthy Holidays Six-Week Holiday Devotional
Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays without Breaking the Bank

"Cheerless Holiday"
"Why the Holidays Don’t Make Everyone Feel So Jolly"
"Stress, Depression, and the Holidays: Tips for Coping"


Yolanda Hardy
Smithfield Library

Friends Bookstore to Host Bag Sale Starting November 24th!!

The Friends Bookstore is hosting a “fill-a-bag” sale beginning Monday, November 24th .

For only $10, you can fill one of our fancy orange Friends bags with as many Bookstore treasures as will fit (books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, etc).

Friends’ members will receive a 10% discount on top of this wonderfully low price. If you're not already a member of the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library, you may join at the store and receive the discount.

The Bookstore is making way for new inventory, so come do some holiday shopping and help us clear the shelves.
All proceeds will fund library programs and initiatives.

(Remember that the Bookstore is selling the Birmingham’s Best Bites cookbook $20. Also, we have Bob Moody's Birmingham: City in Watercolor for $35. These books will not be included in our Bag Sale, but they make excellent gifts!)

We'll be closed for Thanksgiving (Nov 27 –Nov 30) but we will resume our sale on Monday, December 1 until supplies last.

The Bookstore is located on the 2nd floor of Central Library's East Building, and the hours are Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Sunday, 2:30-5:30 p.m. For more information call 205-226-3676.

Say "Thank You" to Your Toilet on World Toilet Day!

I have always believed that everything you really need to know in life may be found in a children’s book, at least the interesting stuff. For instance, while reading the book Death by Toilet Paper written by Donna Gephart, I learned 37 fun filled toilet/toilet paper facts. Did you know…

• It takes about 384 trees to produce the toilet paper one person uses in a lifetime.
• Toilet paper didn’t exist in the Middle Ages. Rich people used wool or hemp. Poor people were stuck using stones, mussel shells, or grass.
• Seven percent of Americans steal toilet paper from hotel and motel rooms.
• In 2013, after the Super Bowl, toilet use spiked 13% in New York City. This caused a 2-inch drop in a 30-foot water reservoir in Yonkers, New York.
• In a public bathroom, the first toilet cubicle in a row is the least used and consequently the cleanest.

In addition to these strange but fun facts, I also learned something quite serious: World Toilet Day is November 19. The mission of World Toilet Day is to improve sanitation conditions for people around the world through advocacy, technology, and education. According to the United Nations, about 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have indoor toilet facilities.

Consider yourself blessed.

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pratt City Creepy Crawlers

On Halloween day, Pratt City Library staff members Len Creer and Alexandria Mitchell decided to mix work and fun. Len is on the left wearing her super girl spy glasses; Alexandria is on the right wearing animal print face paint.

We started the day by announcing the winner of our “Creepy Crawler” guessing game. Aniya Hunt, a 6th grader from Bottenfield Middle School, was the winner out of 72 entries. Before entering the contest, each person was required to check out two items.

The day was filled with trick-or-treaters and fun. Alex and Len had a great day at the Pratt City Library.

Len Creer & Deborah Drake
Pratt City Library