Saturday, December 16, 2017

Shot in Alabama: Historical Birmingham Photographs Exhibit Opens at Central Library

What: Shot in Alabama: Historical Birmingham Photographs exhibit
Where: Central Library, First Floor Gallery near the display windows
When: December 10, 2017-February 4, 2018
Details: Free and open to the public during library hours. On Sunday, January 7, Shot in Alabama author Frances Robb will give a gallery tour of the exhibit at 2:30 p.m., followed by a lecture at 3:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium.

If you like looking at historic photographs, make plans to make your way to the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Central branch to view its new exhibit Shot in Alabama: Historical Birmingham Photographs. The exhibit is open to the public through February 4, 2018, in the First Floor Gallery.

The photo display features nearly 30 pictures from the book Shot in Alabama: A History of Photography, 1839-1941, and a List of Photographers by author Frances Osborn Robb, released by the University of Alabama Press in 2016. Shot in Alabama is Robb's visual and textual narrative of Alabama's photographic history from 1839 to 1941.

BPL’s exhibit highlights the Birmingham photographs, many of which come from BPL’s Archives Department. Students from Altamont School in Birmingham designed the exhibit and wrote the content for the 30 photograph labels. Robb, author and curator of the exhibit, will give a lecture about Shot in Alabama the book at the Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, 2018. Robb will also lead a gallery tour of the exhibit at 2:30 p.m. prior to her talk.

Presented chronologically, Robb depicts Civil War photography, portraits of the end of the 19th century, the Great Depression, pre-World War II illustrated photography, and more. Robb also chronicles the work of hundreds of photographers—black and white, amateur and professional, women and men. The Shot in Alabama book also has an appendix listing 1,400 photographers by name, working dates, and location.

A Huntsville native, Robb has spent 25 years researching Alabama photography while serving as a consultant on the state's cultural history and historic photography for museums, archives, and libraries.

The Shot in Alabama book is available for $60 in the BPL Friends Bookstore, located on the first floor of the Central Library. Proceeds from sales benefit BPL.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Flipster App Now Available for Chromebook

The same Flipster app for Android phones and tablets is now available for Chromebooks via Google Play. This means that library patrons can easily access the enhanced Flipster app and download digital magazines using a supported Chromebook. Learn more.

Flipster is a free digital magazine service available through the Birmingham Public Library for residents of Birmingham with a JCLC libary card. Full-text popular magazines are available to be read on a mobile device or computer.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Marvel Graphic Novels Now Available on hoopla

On December 8 hoopla digital announced a new agreement with Marvel Entertainment that adds over 250 collections and graphic novels to the service. Through this agreement, patrons of participating public libraries can now borrow Marvel works such as Thor: God of Thunder, Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Civil War, and X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga via hoopla digital on their smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Marvel content arriving on hoopla digital includes heroes and villains that have been a part of Marvel’s blockbuster films and acclaimed television shows, including The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Punisher, and The Runaways. Marvel’s collections add to hoopla’s catalog of more than 600,000 movies, TV shows, music albums, eBooks, audiobooks, and comics.

“Through this agreement, we are building a digital home for comic book fans where they can find all their favorite characters and have instant access to hundreds of acclaimed works—all with a library card. No collection would be complete without the iconic work of Marvel Entertainment,” said Jeff Jankowski, founder and owner of hoopla digital.

hoopla digital’s comics experience showcases Action View, a one-of-a-kind, immersive digital reading experience that allows for full-page and panel-by-panel views of comics and illustrations.

To begin accessing Marvel content, library-card holders of participating public libraries can download the free hoopla digital mobile app on their Android or iOS device or visit

hoopla digital has partnerships with more than 1,600 public library systems across North America including Boston Public Library, Free Library of Philadelphia, Chicago Public Library, San Francisco Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, and Edmonton Public Library. (Source: Hoopla Newsroom/press release)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Reaching Out to the Community

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

This week Kimberley Wiley and I enjoyed our hours spent staffing a Birmingham Public Library table at the Birmingham City Schools Community Services Information Fair at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. We created library cards, renewed library cards, and checked out books, DVDs, and graphic novels to parents. This program is presented every year and is open to all parents/guardians of Birmingham City School children. I had the privilege of presenting information about the Birmingham Public Library and presentations about services were given by the following agencies. Feel free to check out their websites.

Maya Jones and Kimberly Wiley manning the BPL table
Alabama Partners for Clean Air
Birmingham Fire and Rescue
Birmingham Healthy Start Plus
Birmingham Public Library
Boy Scouts of America
Childcare Resources
The Dannon Project
Girls Inc. of Central Alabama
Family Court of Jefferson County
Family Guidance Center
Jefferson County Department of Health
Jefferson County Department of Human Resources (DHR-Family Assistance)
Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency
United Way of Central Alabama
YMCA of Greater Birmingham
YWCA of Central Alabama

If you are interested in the Birmingham City Schools Family Involvement Program and what they offer, please view this link or contact Mechelle Rice-Fields, Coordinator of the Family Evolvement Program at 205.231.2262.

Historical Newspaper Articles Covering Birmingham's Elementary Schools Online

Did you attend elementary school in Birmingham? Are you searching for historical information about local schools? If so, we have good news! Birmingham Public Library's Digital Collections now has newspaper articles covering Birmingham's elementary schools available online.

Schools include:
ACIPCO School 
Alley School 
Baker Elementary School 
Barrett Elementary School 
Bluff Park Elementary 
Bush Elementary School
Bryant Elementary School 
Butler Elementary School 
Calloway Elementary School 
Central Park Elementary School 
Curry Elementary School
Dupuy Elementary School 
Lewis Elementary School 
East Lake Elementary School 
Barrett Elementary School 
South East Lake Elementary School 
Eagen Elementary School
Banks High School
Dudley Elementary Schoo
Inglenook Elementary School
Dupuy Elementary School
Edgewood Elementary School
Elyton Elementary School 
Fairmont Elementary School 
Fairview Elementary School
Gate City Elementary School
Gibson Elementary School
Glen Iris Elementary School
Going Elementary School
Graymont Elementary School
Green Acres Elementary School
Greenwood Elementary School
Green Springs Elementary School 
Gwin Elementary School
Hemphill Elementary School
Henley Elementary School
Hewitt Elementary School
Hill Elementary School
Holman Elementary School
Huffman Elementary School 
Inglenoook Elementary School
42nd Street Negro School 
Jackson Elementary School 
Jones Valley Elementary School 
Kennedy Elementary School 
Lakeview Elementary School 
Lane Elementary School 
Lee Elementary School
Lincoln Elementary School 
McArthur Elementary School
30th Street Negro Elementary School 
McElwain Elementary School 
Martin Elementary School 
Minor Elementary School
North Roebuck Elementary School 
Moore Elementary School
North Smithfield Elementary School
Patterson Elementary School
Powderly Elementary School 
Powell Elementary School 
Pratt City Elementary School 
Price Elementary School 
Princeton Alternative School
Putnam Elementary School 
Riley Elementary School 
Robinson Elementary School 
South East Lake Elementary School 
Venetia Heights Elementary School 
Wilson Elementary School 
Wenonah Elementary School
West Center Street Elementary School
Wilkerson Elementary School
Woodlawn Elementary School
Wright Elementary School
Wylam Elementary School

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Sign Up for Text Message Notifications

Keep up-to-date with your library account on your mobile phone using the library's Shoutbomb text messaging service.

Sign up using your phone
  1. Text the word SIGNUP to 205-358-4149.
  2. Then reply to the messages from Shoutbomb with your library card number and PIN.
  3. Once your Shoutbomb registration has been completed, you will automatically get text notices about items available to pick up, items that are due soon, overdue items, and fines. A text will be sent only when activity on your account triggers a message.

Book Review: Leonardo da Vinci

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Leonardo da Vinci
Walter Isaacson

Our enduring image of Leonardo is one he created for himself— the discerning sage with his long hair and beard. The pleasure of Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci is that we get glimpses of the beautiful, endearingly vain man who, through his insatiable curiosity and unmatched visual acuity, evolved into the authentically wise sage we see in his self-portraits. Biographers, including Sigmund Freud, have long been fussy about Leonardo’s homosexuality, but Isaacson’s Leonardo is an unselfconscious gay man, athletic, with long golden curls and widely remarked upon for his androgynous beauty, who drew like an angel even before he was apprenticed in Florence at the age of twelve. In his youth, unusually, he wore his robes, often pink or purple, above the knee. It is said we get a glimpse of the young Leonardo in his master Verrocchio’s statue of David, standing triumphant over the head of Goliath. Even then, as a very young man, Leonardo was respected for his painting, but he was most widely celebrated for staging wondrous ephemeral public spectacles on behalf the rulers of Renaissance Italian city-states. He was an artist and an impresario, the quintessential Renaissance man who often bought caged birds to set them free.

Andrea del Verrocchio's David
(with Leonardo as the model)
We do not know a lot about Leonardo’s life, or how he felt, but we know more about what he thought than nearly anyone who ever lived. He kept meticulous notebooks from the age thirty until he died. Over 7,000 pages of these notebooks have survived five centuries of hazards. The strength of Isaacson’s biography is his chapter-by-chapter discussion of Leonardo’s scientific and artistic discoveries as recorded in these notebooks. Leonardo’s autopsies revealed to him secrets of the inner eye and the human heart. Leonardo describes his discoveries in the science of perspective. He speculates about sneezing, the flight of birds, and the reason the sky is blue. The notebooks also tell us the color, cloth, and style of the clothes Leonardo gave his beautiful young boyfriend, who was the subject of many exquisite doodles that coexist with detailed three-dimensional drawings of gliders and bird wings. These notebooks with their priceless scientific lore were sadly unpublished. Leonardo, the perfectionist, was reluctant to declare anything finished, so that many of his scientific findings were only re-discovered centuries later.

Isaacson’s great subject is genius. He has given us biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs, men we call Renaissance men, whose insatiable curiosity ranged far beyond the confines of one single field of knowledge. We come to understand how Leonardo’s paintings are great because of the natural lore he brought to bear, the complex play of muscles behind a smile. Learned, accomplished, and beautiful, Leonardo was a jewel of princely courts and was, from time to time, sent from one ruler to another as a sign of respect. They indulged Leonardo, and he seems to have lived his life, from his beautiful youth to his learned old age, doing exactly what he wanted to do.

Leonardo lived most of his life in Florence, Milan, Rome, and, ultimately, in a Loire valley chateau outside of Paris where he died, beloved, in the arms of Francois, the King of France, under the mysterious gaze of his painting, the Mona Lisa, which he had been perfecting for many years.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Money Matters Workshop – Holiday Shopping on a Budget Scheduled for December 13 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.

12/13/2017 – Holiday Shopping on a Budget (held on 2nd Wednesday in December)
1/17/2018 – Empower Yourself Financially
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

Library STEM Programs Combine Fun and Creativity to Teach Critical Thinking and Tech Skills to Children and Teens

by Mark Skinner, East Ensley Branch Library

One of the great things about the Birmingham Public Library System is its commitment to children’s programs. Along with Summer Reading and other programs throughout the year, BPL has sought to provide STEM learning to its patrons. The library is working to fill in the gap between what the student is learning in school with activities they might not have access to at their school.

At the East Ensley Library and other library branches, we use STEM-oriented toys, puzzles, games, and programs to help bridge that gap. STEM learning allows the children who visit our library to think critically and creatively to solve problems, or to just simply have fun making something with a friend.

The best part about STEM is that is doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many resources that show you how to use everyday household items to learn something new about science or engineering. Here are a few websites to check out:

Science Buddies
STEM Laboratory

The library also has many books and other resources to help get you started!:

The Everything STEM Handbook: Help Your Child Learn and Succeed in the Fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

hoopla's New Read-Along Feature to Help Young, Reluctant, and Second Language Learners

On December 4 hoopla digital introduced a new line of Picture Books with Read-Alongs for young readers. These read-along titles are displayed in picture-book layout, and feature an audio player with narration as well as text that will highlight in red in sync with the narrative audio, making the read-along feature the perfect tool for new or reluctant readers and second-language learners.

"We developed this eReader with feedback from librarians, patrons, and publishers and created an experience that really celebrates the work of the authors and illustrators on our platform," said owner and founder of hoopla digital Jeff Jankowski.

Click here to view a selection of read-along titles including Disney-Pixar's Coco and HarperCollins' Pete the Cat.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Friends Bookstore Bag Sale Price Has Been Slashed!

Greetings, shoppers and book lovers! Recycling a gently loved book is so much better than regifting that ugly TJ Maxx picture frame from Aunt Ida. While there's still plenty of time for Christmas shopping, the Friends Bookstore is reducing it's fill-a-bag sale price from $20 to $10. So come in and take advantage of tremendous savings and dig around for a thoughtful gift for someone you like. (Excludes T-shirts, albums, and special priced books and items.)

The sale runs through December 22, when the library closes December 23-26 for the Christmas holiday.

The Friends Bookstore is located on the first floor of the Central Library and is open Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Call 205-226-3676 for more information.

Miss Iwate, Birmingham’s Japanese Friendship Doll, Is Going to Japan for 90th Birthday Tour

The Japanese delegation that will escort Miss Iwate to Japan for a four-month exhibition
tour and a 90th birthday celebration. Former Birmingham Public 
Library Arts, Literature and
Sports Department head Haruyo Miyawa (left) and 
her father. Dr. Ichiro Miyagawa,
sponsored a luncheon at the library for the guests

What: Miss Iwate's 90th birthday celebration and tour of Japan
When: Departs Birmingham on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, returns to BPL at end of March 2018
Details: Miss Iwate will be on an exhibition across Japan with other dolls as part of a traveling tour.

Miss Iwate, the Birmingham Public Library’s Japanese Friendship Doll since 1927, is returning to her homeland for a tour of Japan as part of a 90th birthday celebration. A group from Japan that visited Miss Iwate at the Central Library last week is taking the doll back to Japan for a four-month tour on Tuesday, December 5. The delegation includes Masaru Aoki of Yoshitoku Dolls Tokyo, which restored the doll before she returned to BPL in 2016; Hideo Akanuma, curator of Iwate Prefectural Museum, one of the venues Miss Iwate will visit while in Japan; and Katsushi Tsunokake, program director of Iwate Broadcasting Co., which is doing a documentary on Miss Iwate’s trip to Japan.

History of Miss Iwate and Japanese Friendship Dolls
An exhibit poster featuring Miss Iwate and her fel-
low Friendship Dolls
In 1927 the children of Iwate Prefecture, Japan, and the children of Birmingham, Alabama, participated in a friendship project. The Committee on World Friendship Among Children sponsored this project. The children of Birmingham sent several dolls to the children in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. The children in Japan sent 58 dolls to the United States. These dolls toured all over America and were later distributed among museums and libraries all over the country.

Miss Iwate was the doll that was sent to Birmingham and placed in the Birmingham Public Library. The Japanese children sent thousands of letters with Miss Iwate. The letters explained that in Japan there is a festival each year called the Feast of Dolls which is held in honor of their favorite toy. Dolls were precious in Japan, with some being centuries old and handed down from mother to daughter.

Miss Iwate, which is life sized, arrived in a black trunk with an extra trunk for her furniture. She has a chest of drawers, a sewing table, a complete tea service, two lanterns, and two small dolls to keep her company. Over the years Miss Iwate has been on display at the library for various functions. She was on exhibit during the Festival of Arts salute to Japan in 1967.

BPL’s Southern History Department cares for Miss Iwate, while BPL’s Archives Department holds 28 letters from the Japanese children that were sent to the US with Miss Iwate. Several of these letters will also be on loan and exhibited with Miss Iwate.

 Miss Iwate is visited by Ashley Hudson
Miss Iwate is available by appointment only through BPL’s Southern History Department. She cannot be held or touched. Read more about Miss Iwate at

“Miss Iwate is beloved by the Japanese people. She delights all those who see her,” said Mary Beth Newbill, department head of the Southern History and Government Documents Departments. “The Birmingham Public Library is honored to continue to encourage goodwill between the US and Japan by sending Miss Iwate back to her native land to tell the story of the Japanese Friendship Dolls.”

Miss Iwate will leave Birmingham with a Japanese delegation on December 5 and return at the end of March 2018. She will be on display at the following places in Japan:

Rikuzentakata: Rikuzentakata Community Hall, December 8-10, 2017
Rikuzentakata, on the coast of Iwate, was one of the areas hard hit by the 2011 Great Eastern Earthquake. Among the items that were rescued and restored after the great earthquake was Sumadaniel Hendrene, a “blue-eyed doll” which was given as a gift from the US in 1927. She is one of the dolls that was given to the children of Japan as part of the project led by American missionary Sidney L. Gulick in an effort to ease the growing tensions between Japan and the United States in the 1920s. After arriving in Japan, she was taken in by the Kesen Elementary School in the city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture where she has been carefully kept and has played a role in numerous events.

After the start of the Pacific War of WWII, she was set on fire, but thanks to the courageous intervention of a woman teacher at Kesen Elementary, the doll was spared a horrible fate. The doll was a victim of the tsunami which hit with sudden force, and she went missing for some time. However, thanks to determined search efforts by people in the community, she was found inside a safe which had been washed away by the tsunami. Afterwards, she was taken to the Iwate Prefectural Museum and underwent various restoration processes. She is a unique and valuable artifact that overcame two major disasters of war and the earthquake/tsunami.

Ichinoseki: Ichinoseki Museum, Decembcer12-17, 2017
Miss Iwate will be displayed along with four “blue-eyed dolls.”

Morioka: Iwate Prefectural Museum, January 8-March 22, 2018
Miss Iwate will be displayed along with all 18 “blue-eyed dolls” known to exist in Iwate Prefecture.

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