Sunday, April 20, 2014

Birmingham Public Library Closed April 18 & 20

All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed for Good Friday on April 18 and for Easter on April 20. The Library will be open for regular operating hours on Saturday, April 19.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Using Templates in Excel 2010

Like most Microsoft Office 2010 programs, Microsoft Excel 2010 provides templates, ready assist users in creating and customizing their documents. Users can modify these predesigned samples to suit their needs and purposes. To use one of the installed templates: 
  1. Click the File tab, then click New
  2. You will see available samples in the “Backstage View.” 
  3. Choose your desired template, and download or click Create
  4. Modify the worksheet as desired. 


Registration is now open for staff and the public for the May 2014 Regional Library Computer Center classes. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES. 

Other classes offered are: 
  • Basic PC (Beginner) 
  • Keyboarding (Beginner) 
  • Basic Internet (Beginner) 
  • Internet Searching (Beginner) 
To register for classes, you may: 
  • Visit the Computer Commons department at the Central Library and obtain a copy of the class schedule. 
  • Fill it out and return to a Computer Commons staff. Register online through the RLCC website. Please allow 2 to 4 business days for registration confirmation. 
Space is limited for each class, and registration does not guarantee you a space. If you register for a class, please make all efforts to attend. Repeated “no shows” could affect your registration eligibility for future classes. 

If you register for a class and cannot attend, call Public Computer Services at (205) 226-3680 or 226-3681 as soon as possible. Please pay close attention to the class times. No one will be admitted after 5 minutes past the time class is scheduled to start. Classes are provided by the Birmingham Public Library.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Children's Book Review: See What a Seal Can Do (Ages 5-9)

See What a Seal Can Do
Chris Butterworth

What can seals do? There are eighteen types of these sea mammals. Each type of seal has differences in their flippers and ears. They spend most of their time in the water, yet choose to live partly on land where they sleep, digest their food and have their pups. They have sensitive ears and can hear on land or underwater.

These are funny, little critters that flop and jump to get around on dry land, even snoring while they are asleep. Seals look lazy and slow when they snooze on sunny rocks, but in water their powerful flippers allow them to move a hundred feet in just a few seconds. When they reach three hundred feet down, their hearts only beat four times per a minute.

Some seal species have almost become extinct in the past so it is important that we take care of all the special types of sea mammals.

Watch this video to see what this seal can do!

Barbara Hutto
Youth Department
Central Library

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happy National Library Week!

National Library Week is April 13-19, 2014. To celebrate, we are providing a coupon good for $5 to pay your overdue charges at any Jefferson County Public Library. If you have ever researched a paper, checked out a bestseller, or attended a special program, you know what a great resource your library is.

If you visit the library during National Library Week, please take a moment and sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries, or sign it online at

Birmingham Public Library Attends Teen Career Fair

Staff from the Birmingham Public Library were present at the Teen Transition Career Fair held at Boutwell Auditorium on Thursday, April 10. The VRS Transition Service, hosts of the free event, presented the event to assist area teens transition into the adult world and find careers. Students spoke with a number of professionals, including BPL’s own Central Branch Public Service Coordinator Kay Davis and Computer Services Trainers Farah Ferguson and Maurice Harley. 

Approximately 200 teens visited the BPL table, obtaining information about services and career opportunities. VRS is a division of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

MakingCents Programs for April 15 & 16 Include a Performance by Dolores Hydock, How to Protect Against Identity Theft, and a Reality Check on Finances for Teens

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public.

Money Talks ... on Tax Day! Stories of Cold, Hard Cash with Dolores Hydock
Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Springville Road Library
If Tax Day has got you down, then come to the Springville Road Library for a story telling pick-me- up with Dolores Hydock! Money talks in a language anyone can understand in these tales of money lost, money found, and figuring out just how much happiness money really can buy.

Identity Theft with Ruth Brock
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: First Baptist Church of Roosevelt City
6012 Malcolm Avenue, Birmingham, 35228
(205) 426-1691
Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify the warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves.

Reality Check for Teens
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
Reality Check is game that serves as a fun way to learn more about personal finance. Teenage participants pretend to be adults with numerous financial responsibilities. Through a series of simulations, participants are required to make spending decisions related to housing, transportation, food, and other expenses. The goal is to discover the relationship between income and expenses, and, hopefully, apply what is learned to real life!

Identity Theft with Ruth Brock
Date: Monday, April 21, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify its warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves.

Financial Concerns of Senior Women
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Place: Five Points West Library
Because, statistically, women are living longer than men, economic challenges which face older Americans have a greater effect on women. This seminar is designed specifically for senior women who are recently widowed or divorced and handling family finances for the first time. Emphasis will be placed on identifying and describing the variety of savings and retirement vehicles that are available for older women.

Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak
Date: Monday, April 28, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
If you're interested in couponing but aren't sure how to get started, this program is for you! Super couponer, Heather Lebischak, will go over the basic couponing rules and then show the participants how to put those rules into practice, without having to invest significant amounts of time in it. Heather will discuss various stores coupon policies, how to organize your coupons, and how to guarantee you are using your coupons to ensure the greatest savings.

The classes are part of a national grant program known as MakingCents: Resources to Help Your Money Grow and Smart investing@your library®, a partnership between the American Library Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celebrate National Library Week with the Birmingham Public Library, April 13–19

Vulcan Park and Museum mascot "V" signs the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. 

To celebrate National Library Week, which is April 13–19, 2014, the Birmingham Public Library is asking the public to sign a declaration of support for libraries. The effort is part of a national campaign known as Declaration for the Right to Libraries, launched by the American Library Association. The campaign is simply a good-faith effort to show how important libraries are in empowering and building communities, strengthening families, and changing lives.

Libraries around the country are collecting signatures this month. Organizers will send the signatures to Congress in early May to demonstrate how committed citizens are to libraries. Already, the Birmingham Public Library system has collected hundreds of signatures, including those of Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., several city leaders, and more. Patrons have expressed strong support of the campaign, saying they love their libraries.

Citizens may visit any library in Jefferson County and ask to sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. Or they may go online and sign by visiting

For more information, visit

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

WORD UP! 2014 Showcases Teen Poets

The excitement was palpable in the packed Arrington Auditorium as emcee Jim Reed genially welcomed the crowd. This was the seventh year for the competition which allows Jefferson County teenagers to showcase their poetry writing and performance skills. Students in grades 9 through 12 write and perform an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee.  This year’s theme was “community.” Earlier this year, participating high schools held preliminary contests at their schools, and the first and second place winners competed at WORD UP!.

The performances were over, and the winners were proclaimed: first place and $300 went to Eboni Wallace of Tarrant; this was the third year in a row that Eboni had received this honor. Second place  and $200 went to Miaya Webster of the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Miaya had won third place at last year’s competition. And there was a tie for third place; Jeralyn Lankford of Clay-Chalkville and Brianna Whittsett of McAdory shared that spot, and each was awarded $150. 

In all, twelve high schools were represented at the event.  The schools included: Birmingham’s Wenonah and Woodlawn; Jefferson County’s Clay-Chalkville, McAdory, Minor, and Shades Valley/Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School; Alabama School of Fine Arts; Hewitt-Trussville; Holy Family Cristo Rey; Leeds, Tarrant, and Vestavia.

Word UP! 2014 was made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Book Review: Lookaway, Lookaway

book cover
Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel
Wilton Barnhardt

Before he was an acclaimed fiction writer (Lookaway, Lookaway made several prestigious year’s best lists) Wilton Barnhardt was a sports writer. It shows in his appreciation of the details that help make yarns real and entertaining. And, no, Lookaway, Lookaway, is not another book about southern football. It’s about a far more desperate, violent, and intricate spectacle, the modern day dissolution of a Great Old Southern Family. Set in Charlotte, North Carolina, the “prefab” metropolis, with a “monster truck show” religious scene, Lookaway, Lookaway is a satire. While funnier in tone than Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full and more outrageous than Pat Conroy, it rings at least as true as either.

This is the epic saga of the Jarvis-Johnston clan. Duke, the patriarch is under the spell of his storied Civil War ancestor, General Joseph E. Johnston. Jerene, his wife, is the steel magnolia matriarch and the de facto patriarch (“Who cares what Duke does?”). The intricately plotted story unfolds in chapters narrated from the point of view of every family member in turn, each revealing their own and each other’s secrets. Good little debutante Jerelyn goes off to Chapel Hill to join a sorority whose sisters go by the nickname “the Skanks” (real sorority, real nickname, by the way). Brother Josh spends his nights seeking interracial romance on CDL, Charlotte Down Low, a gay hook-up website. Dorie, Josh’s black lesbian BFF seduces fine southern ladies. Calamities ensue and are revealed: rape, murder, grand larceny, society gala fundraisers, illegitimate children, abortions, domestic violence, Christmas dinner, interracial lust, feuding Presbyterian congregations, dueling, beastiality, blackmail, betrayal, Civil War battle re-enactments. The regional variations of Carolina barbeque, hush puppies, and cole slaw are explicated.

Lookaway, Lookaway is an exploration of the myth of the Great Old Southern Family. Although that myth does not enjoy the dominance in southern culture it once did, it still has millions of devotees. Its shrines, southern show-mansions stuffed with antiques, are maintained by private families and municipalities at great expense throughout the south. Barnhardt’s acid satire should, at the very least, inspire the reader to wonder at the hypocrisy, fragility and ruinous cost of Great Old Southern Family pretensions. As grandmother Jeannette tells her stone-hard daughter, Jerene, “It is na├»ve to think that anybody that has got money got it without doing something really bad, because it is much easier to be poor—that, my girl, is the natural state of things. Money runs out. Money gets spent. To have so much of it that it doesn't run out, doesn't get spent, means that something…. unpleasant had to happen along the way.”

Jerene, the matriarch, is the great character. She first commands the reader’s attention when she lays down the law for her daughter, who is experiencing a teachable moment, “Darling, in the future, you may not invite to a bed any young man about whom you do not know his father’s profession, his eventual means, his status in this world. That is a one-way ticket to the mobile home park. These are most important details.” Thus, from mother to daughter, hard earned wisdom is imparted and the Great Old Southern Family is maintained.
We know Jerene, and the awful Jeannette. We know Josh, brother Beau, sister Annie, Aunt Dillard (Jerene to her sister Dillard, “You may not become a cat lady. You may not become eccentric beyond a certain point.”) daddy Duke, wife Kate and Uncle Gaston. And we know bits and pieces of all of these stories that wrap around the Jarvis-Johnstons in their decline.

Readers who enjoy the works of Jill McCorkle, Allan Gurganus, and Clyde Edgerton will not want to miss Lookaway, Lookaway.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

"I Want to Learn..."

I’ve been thinking about learning lately. I don’t really want to take a formal course or go back to school but I want to study something. This caused me to think about the free resources that Birmingham Public Library and other entities provide for lifelong learning.

Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Classes, Programs & Workshops
Check out the BPL Calendar of Events for upcoming classes, programs and workshops. At the top of the page, choose your library.

The April 2014 computer class schedule for the BPL Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) is already posted. Follow the instructions on the class schedule to register for classes. The RLCC is located at the Central Library. If you are interested in computer classes at other branches, use the BPL Calendar of Events and do a keyword search for computer.

If you are looking for classes, programs, and workshops in any of the Jefferson County public libraries, check out their Calendar of Events and Reader.

I know the title of the series …For Dummies may sound off-putting but these are some of the best introductory books around and they cover a variety of topics. Likewise, I never liked the word “idiot” but the Complete Idiot’s Guide series makes me feel like I’m less of one. When you have the time, pick a subject that’s interesting and check out a book in one of these series.

Birmingham Public Library Databases & Free Online Resources
BBC Languages is available to the public; you don’t need a library card. I really liked this website. You can learn British Isle languages: Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Cornish, Manx, and Guernsey French as well as phrases in more than 40 languages.

Ben's (Benjamin Franklin) Guide to U.S. Government for Kids is a wonderful website administered by the U.S. Government Printing Office and the courses are specifically tailored by grade levels.

CIA Factbook has information on the people, history, geography, economy, etc. of other countries.

Encyclopedia of Alabama this free encyclopedia is recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about Alabama’s people, history, government and culture.

Learn 2 Type is a free keyboarding tutorial. Click on Typing Tutor Account to create an account and start learning to type.

Mango Languages is available to Birmingham Public Library cardholders and is a great resource if you want to learn Mandarin (Chinese), Japanese, French, German or Spanish.

TED Talks are short talks, usually 18 minutes or less, and they cover various topics. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. You can look at the videos or tune into TED RadioHour on NPR (National Public Radio).

Free Online Courses and Classes
Coursera provides free and fee online courses from universities across the country and around the world.

Khan Academy is a K-12 video resource that covers math, science and some of the humanities. The great thing is each video is only 10 minutes long.

Harvard Open Courses: Open Learning Initiative offers free recorded lectures taught by Harvard faculty.

MITOpenCourseware is similar to Harvard and Yale’s open courses but they have a larger selection of courses. I just finished watching the “Dress for Success” segment of the 2010 Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT) Leadership Conference. I enjoyed the conference and plan to watch the keynote speech.

OpenLearn is the website for free courses through the Open University. They offer over 650 courses with different skill levels: introductory, beginner, intermediate, advanced and master’s levels. College credit is not available.

Open Yale Courses are free recorded lectures taught by teachers and scholars at Yale University. College credit is not available.

I hope you will use these free resources and learn about things that interest and challenge you. While working on this blog article, I signed up for a computer programming course in Coursera titled, “Programming for Everybody.” If you want to know how the computer class is going and my experience with Coursera, please feel free to e-mail me at

Maya Jones
West End Library