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

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Christmas Memory with Dolores Hydock, December 7

Join us for our annual tradition with Birmingham storyteller and actress Dolores Hydock as she presents A Christmas Memory. Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama is bought to vivid life in this wonderful holiday performance.

A Christmas Memory with Dolores Hydock
Sunday, December 7, 2014
3:00 p.m.
Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium
Central Library

Renasant Bank Workshop on Self-Employment and Small Business Tax Scheduled for November 20

Renasant Bank is reaching out to help small businesses succeed with a free six-part entrepreneurial success series. Series topics include Financial Management, Networking and Relationship Building, Social Media, Tax Information, Business Plan Components, Human Resources and Access to Capital.

Renasant staff and local experts are leading these valuable learning sessions throughout the Birmingham and Shelby County communities. The event is co-sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library System and Trudy Phillips Consulting. Complementary refreshments will be served.

Tracey Morant Adams, Senior Vice President Small Business and Community Development Director said of the series, ‘This free series is part of Renasant Bank’s continuing commitment to further the success of small business owners and entrepreneurs in our area. We are pleased to provide valuable tools and insight to help our local community businesses thrive and flourish.”

To register for any of the sessions, please visit:


Self-employed & Small Business Tax Workshop
Woodlawn Public Library
November 20, 2014
9:30-11:00 a.m.

One-Page Business Plan with Financial Projections
Alabaster City Hall
January 15, 2015
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Contract Employees vs. Full Time Employees
Avondale Public Library
February 12, 2015
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Job Searching Tips with Jack Norris Returns on Tuesday, November 18

Local career counselor, Jack Norris, will be making an encore presentation of his program, Job Searching Tips at 2 PM on Tuesday, November 18, 2014, in the RLCC at the Central Library. The 45-minute program will cover a variety of topics related to the job search process, including resume building; interviewing skills; networking; and, most important, keeping a positive attitude! Following the presentation, Mr. Norris will entertain questions from the attendees and will be available to provide individual consultation to address particular concerns.

Mr. Norris is a very energetic septuagenarian who, though a native of Baltimore, MD, has lived in Alabama for many years. He has had an interesting and varied career that includes stints in sales, marketing, public relations, executive recruitment, and employment and career counseling. He has even owned and operated his own small business. In recent years, he has tapped into his experience to provide career and job searching advice to clients at Outplacement Consulting Services and the Alabama Department of Labor’s local career center.

The program is free and everyone is welcome to attend. For further information, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 226-3691.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Some Libraries Closed This Weekend: Updated

Three BPL locations will be closed this weekend due to problems with heating systems. The Central Library, North Birmingham Regional Branch, and Southside Branch will be closed over the weekend so that the BPL's maintenance crew and the Birmingham Public Works Department can make necessary adjustments. Several other BPL locations will be open for your library needs.

Update 11/15: North Birmingham's heating system is now working properly and the library will be open regular hours this weekend.

Update 11/16: All BPL locations will open at their regularly scheduled time tomorrow (11/17).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thieves Target Birmingham Public Libraries

East Lake Branch 

For the fifth time in the last three months, thieves have broken into a Birmingham Public Library. Police responded to a call shortly after 7:30 a.m. regarding a glass break at the East Lake Branch location on Oporto Madrid Blvd. Upon arrival, police determined that other items may have been taken from inside the building. On yesterday, police responded to an alarm at the Smithfield Branch—the third break in at this location in as many months—where items were taken as well. In September, thieves broke into the Titusville Branch and made off with a costly piece of equipment.

“It is very disheartening that our libraries continue to be targeted,” stated Interim Library Director Angela Fisher Hall. “The public library is so important to the community it serves. The money that it takes to clean this up and make the necessary repairs or replacements, takes significant dollars away from library improvements, collections and programs. I think the community can help us in solving these crimes and hope that they will share what they know with the police.” Staff at the East Lake Branch will spend this morning having necessary repairs made, cleaning up the facility and preparing for the installation of security cameras. The facility will open to the public at 1:00 p.m. today.

The Childrens Department of the East Lake Branch
The East Lake Branch of the Birmingham Public Library began its life in a 25x50 foot room on the second floor of the East Lake Fire Station in 1914. After land was purchased in 1926 for a separate facility, the completed East Lake Branch Library was a two-story, Georgian Revival structure with 8,000 square feet of usable space. It was built using the same stone and buff bricks as the current East Lake Fire Station next door. It opened its doors in 1928 close to three elementary schools (at the time Barrett, Robinson and Kirby), Woodlawn High School and Howard College (now Samford University located in Homewood).

Located at One-Eighth Avenue West, the Smithfield Branch Library is one of the oldest branches in the Birmingham Public Library System. It first opened in 1918 as the Booker T. Washington Library and was one of the state's first libraries for black Alabamians. The branch library was located in three leased rooms of the Masonic Temple Building at 4th Avenue North and 17th Street. It was not until 1956 that the first Smithfield Library Branch building was dedicated. It holds an important place in the city's history, being the first building specifically built to hold a library for black residents of Birmingham.

The Titusville Branch Library was established in 1957 as the Southside Branch Library. The present structure, built in 1992, is an expansive glass and gray granite building.