Monday, May 22, 2017

Gentle Yoga Class

Gentle Yoga Class
Monday, June 19, 2017
11:00-12:30 p.m.
Birmingham Public Library
2100 Park Place
Youth Department Storycastle

Are you interested in a gentle exercise class that will calm your mind and heal your spirit?

Join us for a relaxing session of gentle yoga. Yoga can relieve stress and calm the mind. Yoga instructor, Marie Blair, will focus on what's going right with the body helping adults develop strength, flexibility and balance inch by inch. To register, please email us at

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for June 5 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Monday, June 5, 2017
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

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 once again be hosting the popular seminar Steps to Starting Your Business in 2017. The seminar is scheduled to be held on the first Monday of each month from February to June, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium, which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library.

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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Teams on a Collision Course

Cleveland CavaliersGolden State Warriors

We are one round away from the NBA Finals.  Throughout the playoffs, fans and commentators alike have been talking about the inevitability of a rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.  The other teams in the playoffs have disagreed, but none have been able, so far, to prevent this rematch from happening.  As of today, the Golden State Warriors are 11-0 in the playoffs and one game away from a 3rd straight trip to the Finals.  In the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers are 10-0 in the playoffs and will play Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight.  They are two games away from their 3rd straight appearance in the NBA Finals. 

As you can see, both Cleveland and Golden State swept the first two rounds of their respective playoff series.  To be fair, each team was tested and there were some very close games resulting in their victories.  However, their ability to recover from deficits (25 points for Cleveland against Indiana, 25 points for Golden State against San Antonio) to win games is extremely deflating to their opponents.  Not to mention games in which they simply dominate their opponents (Cleveland’s 44-point victory over Boston, Golden State’s 36-point victory over San Antonio).  The inability of other teams to sustain big leads and come away with a victory has made it seem impossible to beat Cleveland and Golden State.

That's why a rematch seems like a foregone conclusion. These teams are rolling through the early rounds of the playoffs because they want to play each other again.  They are watching each other’s games to look for signs of weakness.  Each team has proven that they can beat the other in the Finals (Golden State, 2015; Cleveland, 2016) and they want an opportunity to break the tie.  The media has been playing up this rivalry since the beginning of the season.  As a basketball fan, I have been hoping for this.  Rivalry games are the best and the quality of play will be phenomenal.  At this pace, we will probably know in the next couple of days if we are in for Round 3, winner-takes-all, Golden State vs. Cleveland in the NBA Finals.  The NBA Finals begin June 1st.  Will you be watching?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Card-Making Classes For Adults & Teens

Card-Making at Central Library
Youth Department Storycastle
Monday, June 12, 2017
2:00-3:30 p.m.

Do you love the look of homemade greeting cards? Are you looking for a way to explore design and express your creativity? Well, look no further.  Join us for a fun and creative class as we make simple yet pretty homemade cards. We’ll have fun combining various papers, colors and designs to make unique creations. We are teaching card-making skills at Central Library and various BPL branches. Join us this summer to make a personalized card for a family member or friend.

Please see our schedule listed below for more information.

Registration required. Limit 12 participants.

Note: Teens are welcome with adult supervision in class.


For more information about the card-making classes at BPL branches, call the library branch manager. To register for the Central Library card-making class, contact Leslie Deason at (205) 226-3677 or email her at

Card-Making Classes For Adults (Teens welcome with an adult)

Date                            Time                Library

June 5              10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.       North Birmingham

June 6              10-11:30 a.m.              Powderly

June 9              10-11:30 a.m.              Springville Road

June 12             2-3:30 p.m.                  Central Library Youth Department Storycastle

June 13            2-3:30 p.m.                  Southside

June 14            10-11:30 a.m.              Wylam

July 12             2-3:30 p.m.                  Avondale

July 24             3-4:30 p.m.                  Woodlawn

Registration Open for July 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the July 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes . During this month, we include classes on a variety of topics including computer skills and career guidance. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.

Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes. You may also call to confirm your registration.

To register for any class, please email us at or call 205-226-3681. You may also download and print a pdf copy of the July 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the July 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes (pdf file) can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Registration Open for June 2017 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the June 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes. During this month, we include classes on a variety of topics including computer skills and career guidance. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.
Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes. You may also call to confirm your registration.
To register for any class, please email us at or call 205-226-3681. You may also download and print a pdf copy of the June 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the June 2017 Summer Adult Central Classes (pdf file) can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Alice Paul Comes to Birmingham

Alice Paul, The Birmingham Age-Herald
Alice Paul is one of those overlooked figures in history. Her name belongs with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as an advocate for women’s suffrage. In May 1917, Alice Paul came to Birmingham, stayed in the Tutwiler Hotel, and made a speech that incited controversy among the citizens of Birmingham.

Who was Alice Paul, and why is her visit to Birmingham important? Alice Paul was the leader of the National Women’s Party and campaigned for a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would grant women nationwide the right to vote. Previous suffrage movements had concentrated on a state by state approach in which each individual state would vote to grant the right to vote to women. Paul was not content to wait patiently for each state to grant women the right to vote, and believed that the support of President Woodrow Wilson was necessary to make Congress ratify a suffrage amendment.

In January 1917, Alice Paul organized the first ever picket of the White House by the National Women's Party, and suffragists served as “silent sentinels” picketing the White House gates in the midst of threats, verbal abuse, and physical violence from onlookers. Their banners read: “Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for their Liberty?” As time passed, their banners became more damaging towards Wilson and even used his own words against him to support suffrage. At the United States entered World War I, many Americans felt that the act of picketing the White House was a sign of disloyalty in a time of a war.

"Silent Sentinel." Courtesy of The Library of Congress
"Silent Sentinel." Courtesy of National Archives

In May 1917, Alice Paul visited Birmingham at the request of Pattie Ruffner Jacobs, who led Birmingham’s suffrage efforts. When asked about the National Women's Party's position regarding the war, Paul stated, "Every individual is free to act as she sees fits, regarding all matters pertaining to the war; we sponsor only one issue: suffrage." Some citizens of Birmingham felt that women’s suffrage was a distraction to the war efforts, and opposed Paul’s presence in the city.
Paul gave her speech at The Tutwiler Hotel and continued organizing pickets of the White House.

By the summer of 1917, Washington D.C.’s police started arresting the suffragists under the guise of “obstruction of traffic.” When the suffragists refused to pay their fines, they ended up in jail. Alice Paul was arrested on October 20, 1917, and sent to the Occoquan Workhouse, which was known for its horrible condition and improper treatment of prisoners. To draw attention to the cause, Paul went on a hunger strike, and the guards ended up force feeding her and the other suffragists who followed suit. Newspapers reported the mistreatment of Paul and other suffragists, and public outcry urged the release of Paul and other suffragists. They were released at the end of November 1917.

In January 1918, President Wilson announced his support of the suffrage amendment; one year after Paul first organized the pickets of the White House. Congress passed the 19th amendment in 1919. However, it did not become law until three-fourths of the states ratified the amendment. Like the majority of Southern states, Alabama’s legislature rejected the 19th amendment in September 1919, but Tennessee’s ratification in August 1920 made the 19th Amendment law and gave women the right to vote. Alice Paul continued to fight for women’s rights through authoring the original Equal Rights Amendment (1923) and the inclusion of sex as protected category under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

For those who would like to read a biography of this remarkable woman, check out Alice Paul: Claiming Power. If you are more inclined to watch a movie, Iron Jawed Angels is a moving film that vividly depicts the triumphs and tragedies experienced by Alice Paul and the suffragists in their quest for the right to vote.

Enjoyed this story? Follow the Southern History Department on Facebook as we explore 100 years ago in Birmingham during the year 1917 each Thursday as part of Throwback Thursday.

Summer Reading Kickoff Party at Central Library

Come celebrate the start of Summer Reading 2017 at the Birmingham Public Library's kickoff party! The event is free but tickets are required. Tickets are available at any Birmingham Public Library location. All ages are welcome and activities include games, inflatables, and arts & crafts. Refreshments will be served. The party will be held in the Central Library's first floor Atrium.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Review: In Search of Lost Time: The Guermantes Way

by David Blake, Department Head, Fiction Department, Central Library

In Search of Lost Time: The Guermantes Way
Marcel Proust

Self-possession is a particularly French trait. One speaks differently with those who hold different positions in society, if one speaks at all. For speaking, or even being introduced to another, has social consequences. Society, the very highest of Belle Époque Paris, at last, joins romantic love as a major subject in this third volume of In Search of Lost Time. Our narrator, still an adolescent, has an obsessive love for the Duchesse de Guermantes whose noble ancestors’ likenesses he contemplated in the centuries-old stained glass windows of the ancient church he attended as a boy. The narrator longs to be introduced to the Duchesse. He stalks her on the streets of the aristocratic Faubourg St Germain as she makes her social rounds, tips his hat when she passes, but she does not acknowledge him.

The French have another exceptional trait. They place the highest value on brilliant conversation, wit, an expressive ease, which, based on the evidence of his remarkable writing, a young Marcel must have possessed in abundance. Still a youth, he is accepted in society at an age unimaginable to us here, today, and becomes an intimate of the Guermantes, Duke and Duchesse, and of their friends who own the most ancient names of France.

Proust holds the reader rapt for scores of pages as he discusses the conversation and social relations of a single party or dinner. He is unsparing but non-judgmental as he relates the silliness and vanity of the speech and conduct of social eminences, which he nonetheless values for the remnants of venerable manners that might have graced the seventeenth century court of the Sun King. In this and many other ways, Proust’s grand theme of time is evidenced in The Guermantes Way.

With no further data, anthropologists could create extensive scientific descriptions of the folkways and kinship patterns of Belle Epoque Paris, based only upon In Search of Lost Time. As with the other volumes of this grand work, brutal psychological introspection is intertwined with kaleidoscopic visual imagery. Proust’s eye for women’s fashion is much demonstrated in The Guermantes Way.

Check it out.

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Summer Reading Registration Under Way at the Birmingham Public Library 

If you are looking for fun, free activities this summer, the Birmingham Public Library's 2017 summer reading schedule has plenty of activities to keep you busy.

Build a Better World is the theme for this year's Summer Reading program, with more than 500 free activities for kids, teens, and adults taking place in June and July in 19 library locations across Birmingham. Patrons of all ages can participate in fun and learning focused on creating, repurposing, and building.

Through books, activities, and guest presenters, participants will discover new ways of looking at the world around them. Programs will include a Ronald McDonald's Magic Show (June 14) and Birmingham Fire Department Show & Tell (June 21) at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library; weekly Family Nights on Tuesdays at the Avondale Regional Branch Library that include Shark Week, Talent Show, Legos, and a carnival; Irish Folk Dancing at several locations, M.A.D. Skillz Dance lessons and Drum Circles at several libraries, painting for all ages, and more.

Prizes will be awarded at each of the Birmingham Public Library's 19 locations. The more books you read between May 15 and August 31, the greater your chances of winning! See details on how to register online at any of the 19 BPL locations

Book Review: Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of a Renaissance City

by David Ryan, Librarian, Business, Science and Technology Department

Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of a Renaissance City
Paul Strathern

Growing up, I loved reading tales of the Italian Renaissance. The beautiful city of Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance, figured prominently in these stories. The authors I read painted the city as a place of winding, dark alleys where assassins in the pay of the great city-state families practiced their nefarious trade. Inside the marbled, domed churches artists like Sandro Botticelli produced some of the most breathtaking art Europe had ever seen. On the outskirts of the city were beautiful fields of golden grain where mercenary generals, or condottiere, led troops in brilliant military maneuvers which resulted in stunning victories, but few fatalities. Paul Strathern in Death in Florence disabuses me of some of my childhood romantic misconceptions, and by focusing on the intertwined lives of Lorenzo d’ Medici, known as the Magnificent, and "the little friar" Savonarola, reveals the Italian Renaissance as byzantine, lethal, and morally corrupting.

Strathern begins his story with Lorenzo Il Magnifico (1449-1492) on his deathbed. Lorenzo the Magnificent deserved his sobriquet. He had steered the city of Florence through so many diplomatic crises that Pope Innocent VIII called him "the needle of the Italian compass." Perhaps of more importance, he had created an atmosphere in Florence where not just the arts, but religious and secular culture could flourish side by side. Where would his death lead? Would Florence take a leap backward, or continue to embrace an open environment where the sacred and the profane could co-exist peacefully? Lorenzo had already drawn in his mind a vision of Florence that would live generations after his death. It began with his son, Piero de Medici, inheriting control of Florence, the Medici banking and trading empire that stretched across Europe, and even wearing the red hat of a Cardinal.

On the other side of the spiritual scales was Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), a Dominican friar who preached to the poor and saw visions, or revelations as he called them, revealing that God would soon “scourge the world.” From contemporary accounts we know that Savonarola was a sincerely pious man who regularly fasted, prayed, and followed the strict life of his order. This was not a man who sought worldly power. At least not initially, but Florence had a way of changing people. Soon Savonarola found himself at the center of a political fight between the wealthy families of Italy, a corrupt Pope, an emperor, kings, and the many Florentine social classes. Some of these figures began to appear in his sermons, and these “sermons were based on the Old Testament and featured an angry God” preparing vengeance for the wealthy and corrupt of Florence.

This book is an historical snapshot of the spiritual versus the temporal, idealism against naked power, and “the clash between materialism and fundamentalism.” On a human level, it is the story of a monk’s fight to remain pure and spread the word of God—“Savonarola’s stated aim was to return the Church to the physical poverty and utter spiritual devotion of its origins.” Lorenzo Medici, on the other hand, schemed for his family to rule Florence, Italy, and possibly the Church, indefinitely. The city of Florence could be as beautiful as a painting by Botticelli, or as ugly as a fiery execution, but only one image could rule its soul at a time.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Opening Reception for Exhibit Sewn and Thrown: Traditional Quilts and Folk Pottery from Alabama’s Black Belt

Quilts by Marlene Bennett, Boykin, Alabama, 2015

What: Sewn and Thrown: Traditional Quilts and Folk Pottery from Alabama’s Black Belt exhibit
When: May 11-June 25, 2017
Where: First floor exhibit cases and Fourth Floor Gallery at the Central Library
Details: Exhibits will be available during library hours. Opening reception Saturday, May 13, 2017, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery

Featuring quilts by master artists from Gee’s Bend and works by Miller’s Pottery of Brent and Ham Pottery of Selma, the Sewn and Thrown: Traditional Quilts and Folk Pottery from Alabama’s Black Belt exhibit will present two living traditions of the region.

Allen Ham
Acclaimed nationally and internationally, the Gee’s Bend quilters are continuing the tradition through their families and community. Sixteen quilts by different women, some of whom will be exhibiting for the first time, will represent the amazing colors and innovative techniques often associated with the textiles produced by several generations over the years.

Folk potter Steve Miller and his cousin Allen Ham grew up working alongside Steve’s father, Eric Miller, in the workplace and shop on Highway 5 in Bibb County. Featured in documentary films, books, and articles, they represent a business dating to the 1850s that began on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Today, they use local clay to make and produce glazed stoneware, utilitarian items, face jugs, and other works of art that are sought after by collectors.

For more information about regional quilting and pottery, visit the Alabama Folklife Association website.

Talk is Priceless, Not Cheap, at Wylam Book Club

by Selina Johnson, Branch Manager, Wylam Branch Library

Everyone interprets the books that they read differently and with that comes the beauty of being a part of a book club. Book club members get lost in the characters and the story that is being told but they may not see the characters and the story in the same way. The sharing of those varied perspectives makes for a solid and interesting group. This is why the Wylam Book Club is a staple program at the Wylam Library.

If you visit the Wylam Library on the third Wednesday of any given month at 11:00 a.m., you will find an engaged and boisterous group of book club members who are making their opinions known about the latest read of the month. Our book club is a real community. The members have formed a bond and are now a group of friends.

Book club members are offered a variety of reading experiences, from suspense to romance to the downright strange. The members have thoroughly enjoyed the books that have been selected for the meetings thus far. They discover new authors, partake of refreshments and enjoy time at the library.

Some may say talk is cheap but I can attest that book club talk is priceless.

Our book for this month is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. If you would like to join in on the lively conversation, our next meeting is Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Visit the BPL event calendar to see upcoming programs at the Wylam Library.