Monday, August 20, 2018

LearningExpress Library School Resources

by Gus Jones, Fiction Department, Central Library

School is back in session and students will rely heavily on the library to help them find information to complete their assignments. Many of these resources are available online and the library provides a number of subject-specific databases as well as online encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. However, there is a great resource available that you may not be familiar with called LearningExpress Library.

LearningExpress Library offers targeted learning centers to support students from 4th grade through college. The School Center provides skill improvement tools for elementary school through high school. The elementary school component focuses on mathematics and English language arts skills. The middle school component includes both of those areas plus social studies and high school entrance exam preparation. Finally, the high school component provides skill improvement tools for mathematics, English language arts, social studies, science, and logic and reasoning skills. Students may download eBooks and/or take practice tests to improve their skills in these areas. They may also track their progress by setting up an account on LearningExpress Library.

The College Students learning center provides a math skills review, reading skills review, grammar and writing skills review, science skills review, as well as preparation for graduate school exams (GMAT®, GRE®, LSAT®, MAT®, MCAT®, PCAT®), college placement exams and CLEP® exams. There is a separate learning center in LearningExpress Library for College Admissions Test Preparation. This includes tools on preparing for the ACT®, SAT®, PSAT/NMSQT® and AP® exams on a number of different subjects. There are even eBooks on preparing a college admissions essay.

I hope that many of you will take advantage of the wonderful information that is included in LearningExpress Library. As its title indicates, it contains a library full of information and it can be used at your convenience from the comfort of your home. There are a number of other learning centers beyond what I have mentioned here (Computer Skills, Career Preparation, etc) that may also be of interest. Please take advantage of what this great database has to offer and have a great school year.

Birmingham Public Library Databases
Electronic Resources for K-12 Students

Tailgating Recipes for Party Crowds

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

With the 2018-2019 football season rapidly approaching, many are gearing up for some All-American games and great food. Tailgating is a major part of the sports season and includes friendly competition, fellowship, and great recipes. Some may choose to barbecue and smell that smoky, meaty aroma while others like to keep it simple by preparing easy and portable foods such as wings, meatballs, cheese dips, pizza, hot dogs & chips, and fruit.

Whichever way you prefer your food, get ready for the most delicious gamedays with quick and easy recipes for tailgate foods.

Check out these recipes from some amazing cook books at your local library!

The Hungry Fan's Game Day Cookbook: 165 Recipes for Eating, Drinking, and Watching Sports by
Daina Falk.
The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook
Fox Sports Tailgating Handbook: The Gear, the Food, the Stadiums by Stephen Linn
More on tailgating

Employment Readiness Bootcamp – New Age Online Application Drill/Interview Performance Training at Central Library August 27

What: Employment Readiness Bootcamp
When: Monday, August 27, 2018
Time: 1:30-3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: New Age Online Application Drill/Interview Performance Training. Free and open to the public.

Choosing a career is not any easy undertaking. Likewise, once you’ve chosen a career, finding a job can be a pretty difficult task as well. When you consider that throughout your lifetime you spend more hours at your job than you do anywhere else, you really need to put the time and effort into making good decisions in regards to career selection and job searching. This is not only true for young people who are entering the job market for the first time, but also for adults who are either reentering the job market after an absence, looking for a new job, or are contemplating a career change. If you fall into any of these categories, then you should plan to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Employment Readiness Bootcamp.

Monday August 27, 2018 – New Age Online Application Drill/Interview Performance Training

  • New Age Online Application Drill offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications.
  • Interview Performance Training provides techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer.

The bootcamp presenter is Tina Thornton. Tina is a professional counselor and founder of Gem Kreations, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting those who have experienced adverse circumstances realize their full personal and professional potential.

For further information about the bootcamp programs, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science, and Technology Department by email at or by phone at 205-226-3691.

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminars Offered at Noon, Evening on August 27

What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
Dates and Times: Monday, August 27, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:00 p.m.)
Monday, September 24, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:00 p.m.)
Monday, October 22, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m.)
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Cost: Free but registration is required

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and Birmingham SCORE will be offering Steps to Starting a Franchise Business, a monthly how-to seminar on franchising at the Central Library. The seminar will explore how franchising can take the risk out of starting your own business and becoming self-employed. Greg Foss, a career transition coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source® and SCORE mentor, will facilitate the seminar.

Topics to be covered in the seminar include: common myths and truths about franchising, the importance of knowing your personal goals before taking the plunge, non-standard ownership options, how to finance your business, how to research and select the right franchise, and resources that are available to help you with your research.

The seminar will be offered again on September 24 and October 22. The August 27 and September 24 seminars will be offered twice daily for your convenience, at 12:00 p.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. The October 22 seminar will be offered once at 12:00 p.m. The seminar is free, but registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call Greg Foss at 336-501-5695.

For more information about the seminar and other resources for small business development available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3690.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Prime Time Family Reading Time Spreads Joy of Reading at BPL

Sharing the importanc

The Birmingham Public Library is a proud participant of Prime Time Family Reading Time, a six-week program held at public libraries across the country that encourages reading, discussion, and storytelling as a family.

Five Points West Regional Branch Library hosts Prime Time Family Reading Time on Tuesday, August 21, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is limited to 30 families. The program features award-winning children’s books to stimulate discussion about problems families encounter everyday.

In Alabama, Prime Time Family Reading Time is sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation. Each 90-minute session includes storytellers reading up to three books followed by a discussion. Prime Time Family Reading Time is typically comprised of parents and children aged 6 to 12. For more information on dates, times,  and location of Prime Time Family Reading Time programs being held at BPL, visit the events calendar.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

West End Branch Library Intern Tamika Green Talks about Her Involvement with Inclusive Internship Initiative

L-R: West End Library branch manager Maya Jones and Tamika Green

2018 Parker High School graduate Tamika Green gained a better perspective of the important role libraries play in Birmingham this summer. In June she was selected to participate in the Public Library Association 2018 Inclusive Internship Initiative, a national program designed to expose teen interns to library careers. Green, who is now enrolled at Alabama State University pursuing a degree in criminal justice, was so impressed that she plans to return to her assigned library, West End Library, to work while home during her Christmas holiday break.

A patron gets to know civil rights foot soldier W.A. Casey at Person-to-Person Library

Recently, Green and her mentor, West End Library branch manager Maya Jones, did an interview with Fox 6 News about the Person-to-Person Library program, a concept in which libraries "check out" to patrons human experts who share their stories. They came up with the idea to expose patrons to interesting people in the community. During a recent session of Person-to-Person Library, Green and Jones worked with two Birmingham foot soldiers, Gwendolyn Webb and W.A. Casey, who met with patrons and talked about their involvement marching during the civil rights movement.

In June Jones and Green attended a Birmingham City Council meeting to talk about their partnership in the Inclusive Intern Initiative.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: The Last Lion: Visions of Glory

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Last Lion: Visions of Glory (1874-1932)
William Manchester

Counted by Time magazine as one of the one hundred great books of the twentieth century, The Last Lion: Visions of Glory is perhaps the most surprising book in William Manchester’s three-volume biography on Winston Churchill. Churchill’s youth and early political career are often overshadowed by his years of greatness, before, during, and after World War II, but Churchill was always interesting. He had to be. He lived like a pasha and wanted to direct the fate of the British Empire, and, although he came from one of the most prominent, aristocratic families in England, he had no money. He became a prolific writer, one of the most prolific and best-paid writers of his time. He was world famous long before he became the prime minister we revere.

And Churchill was a “hottie.” Red-headed and trim in tight fitting uniforms, young Winston made full use of the possibilities for adventure in Queen Victoria’s grand empire, as an officer and foreign correspondent. Elected as a war hero, Churchill quickly rose into leadership, and, again surprisingly, worked with Lloyd George to break the power of the aristocracy and build the foundations of the British welfare state.

Young Winston had been a lonely, unpopular, and difficult boy, unsuccessful in school and sport, near the bottom in every school he attended. The Last Lion: Visions of Glory is largely the story of how a boy who disappointed everyone became the man who saved us all.

Many readers might be returning to The Last Lion: Visions of Glory decades after first reading it and the subsequent The Last Lion: Alone, which covers Hitler’s rise and Churchill’s time in the political wilderness in the 1930s. Some will be glad to learn that the final volume of Manchester’s trilogy was published posthumously in 2012. New readers will be happy to learn that Churchill and Manchester are very good company.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for August 21 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Tuesday, August 21 (3rd Tuesday of each month, July-October 2018)
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 Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, will be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business from July to October 2018. The seminar is scheduled to be held on the following Tuesdays from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium, which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library: August 21, September 18, October 16.

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 Valencia Fisher in the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity at or 205-254-2799.

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.

Smithfield Branch Library Helping Students Prepare for ACT with Learning Express Library Sessions

With Birmingham area public schools back in session, the Birmingham Public Library is offering resources available to help students desiring to go to college prepare for the ACT, or American College Test.

The Smithfield Branch Library is offering free weekly practice test sessions on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3:30-5:30 p.m. On Saturdays, Smithfield Library is offering ACT full test sessions from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. The Saturday sessions are free but due to space restrictions, pre-registration is required. ACT is a standardized test administered by the American College Testing Program. Read more about the ACT at

Smithfield Library branch manager Heather McWilliams said their goals are through Smithfield’s ACT Prep sessions assist patrons in becoming more comfortable in taking the ACT. These sessions use BPL’s online database, the Learning Express Library, a free tool students can access online from home using their library card.

“This is something that becomes easier with practice and we want to ensure patrons have all the tools they need when preparing for college,” McWilliams said. “Using our online database, Learning Express Library, gives students independent knowledge using databases, which is vital when performing research in college classes.”

ACT prep sessions schedule:

ACT Prep: Section Practice
Tuesdays and Thursdays through December 27, 2018, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
You will be able to take practice tests for the five sections of the ACT: English, Math, Science, Reading, and Writing. Free to the public and student walk-ins welcome if computers available.

ACT Prep: Full Test
Saturdays through December 29, 2018, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.; 2:00-6:00 p.m. 
Take the ACT test prep through BPL's online database, Learning Express Library. Free but pre-registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call 205-324-8428.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Crafting Is a Good Thing

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Relaxing and crafting at the Wylam Library

The month of August begins the start of a new school year for most students. They are now tasked with getting back into school routines that will allow them to reach their academic potential. To this end, there is no reason for creating and learning to cease once school dismisses for the day. After-school crafts are entertaining and students get a kick out of mastering these tried-and-true do-it-yourself projects. Crafts are not only fun but provide many positive benefits.

Creating things with your hands and making decisions about the process of how best to complete crafts stimulates the brain. This, in turn, inspires critical thinking such as contemplating what would be the best color for a birdhouse or determining how to best arrange wooden sticks in order to create a picture frame. Crafting can also be a stress reliever. Once school has ended for the day, decompressing and creating something of their own in a judgment-free zone is a release that many students appreciate.

It is quite refreshing to know that time-honored crafting is still something that students enjoy. It is a way for students to express themselves and you can see the sense of accomplishment on their faces when they have completed their work of art. The best thing about crafting is that you can make everything you create special simply because it was made with your own hands.

We have make-and-take crafts at Wylam Library on the first and the third Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. during the school year. Come and join us to create a make and take craft of your very own. Visit the BPL events calendar for a listing of programming at Wylam Library.

The Diversity of Podcasts

by Jenn Seiler-Patrick, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

I’m a podcast fanatic and am always searching for a new one to binge listen to. If you’re into listening to audiobooks, storytelling, or the radio, podcasts might be the thing for you too! One of the best parts about podcasts is the diversity—almost anyone can make one with very little equipment and talk about anything they like. For me, this has resulted in a greater understanding of and appreciation for those different from myself.

All that to say—here are some recommendations!

True Storytelling

Ear Hustle – A truly unique podcast produced and written by inmates incarcerated at San Quentin. Inmates share their stories, which are sometimes sad but often funny.

Reply All – Weird things happen in our modern world all the time and this podcast seeks to figure out why. Some of the episode topics include: Facebook spying, the New York Pizza Rat, micro-dosing on LSD, and a computer dominatrix.

Fictional Storytelling

The Black Tapes and Tanis (sister-podcasts) – These two creepy, paranormal podcasts will keep you coming back to figure out their mysteries. Don’t listen before bed!

Homecoming – A very well produced, acted, and written podcast, Homecoming drops you into a mystery featuring the voices of several well-known actors. Missing memories, corporate corruption and government interference galore!


A Very Fatal Murder – For the more advanced podcast listener, this satirical podcast by The Onion features a journalist trying to solve a crime. If you liked Serial, or any other true crime podcasts/documentaries, you’ll get a kick out of this one.

2 Dope Queens – Comedian BFFs, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, host a hilarious comedy show with some of your favorite funny people as guests. No topic is off-limits for these hilarious ladies!


Pod Save the People – DeRay Mckesson hosts this podcast that discusses culture, news and social justice with diverse experts and leaders. Learn a lot about what is going on in our country and how to be a better citizen and ally.

Dear Sugars – In the form of a “Dear Abby” column for your ears, the two hosts answer listeners’ deepest, darkest questions with empathy and kindness.

Finally, BPL can also help you out if you’d like to share your own podcast! Here are some books that can be checked out from the library:

Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies by Tee Morris
Podcasting Bible by Mitch Ratcliffe
Create Your Own Podcast by Matt Anniss

Friday, August 10, 2018

Meet Patricia Campbell, Author of Pocket Inspiration: 31 Days of Inspiration

Patricia Campbell

Books: Pocket Inspiration: 31 Days of Inspiration, one of several authors featured in the best seller 1 Word, Discover, Reflect, & Connect with Words That Can Transform Your Life
How to reach the author: email:; website:; Facebook: Minister Patricia Campbell; Instagram: MinisterPatricia; Twitter: AuthorPatriciac; LinkedIn:
Quote Campbell uses as a guide in life: “In today’s society, many times we become so focused on ‘me’ that we forget about the real joy in life! Early on in life, a very great woman imparted to me this simple motto from a song written by Alma Bazel Androzzo: 'If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain!'"

If you need to be inspired, join Patricia Campbell at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo as she shares the vision behind the spiritual devotional she has written, Pocket Inspiration, 31 Days of Inspiration.

Campbell will sell autographed copies of her book and discuss her contributing co-author role in the best-selling book, 1 Word, Discover, Reflect, & Connect with Words that can Transform Your Life.
Pocket Inspiration is a pocket-sized devotional invitation to spend the next 31 days in strategic prayer and bible study. The book guides readers on how to delve daily into provocative meditation and prayer that maximizes their time with God.

A woman of God in touch with the pulse of the spirit, Campbell is a teacher, conference speaker, intercessor, prayer warrior, and minister of the gospel at the Tower of Prayer in Leeds. She is the founder of Life Ministries, a Birmingham ministry whose assignment is to empower the body of Christ to live in fullness and excellence.

When she is not helping others as an inspirational coach, mentor, and business consultant, Campbell enjoys spending time with her daughter April, her granddaughter Shriya, son-in-law Herbert, and her extended family. Her hobbies include writing, reading, bowling, and traveling.

Campbell will be among 39 authors at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library Grand Reading Room. Come take advantage of this opportunity to hear Campbell and other authors share writing tips and buy autographed copies of their books at this great event. For more information, visit

Meet Anthony D. Sparks, Author of Confessions of a Dreamer

Anthony D. Sparks

Books: #BETTER, RelationTIPS, Confessions of a Dreamer
How to reach the author: email:; website: www.anthonydsparks.comFacebook: Anthony D. Sparks: Instagram: @AnthonyDSparks; Twitter: @AnthonyDSparks
Quote Sparks uses as a guide in life: “My purpose is to help others live a life OF purpose ON purpose!”
Quote from Sparks about being involved in Local Authors Expo: “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Local Authors Expo. Sharing the space with so many creative minds is both humbling and exciting, and I’m just looking forward to being in the room!”

Anthony D. Sparks is the owner and operator of Anthony D. Sparks LLC, a company in which he serves as a certified development coach, author, and motivational speaker. In these roles he seeks to empower others via personal and professional development, relationships, branding, and corporate training. Sparks has written three books: #BETTER: 7 Keys to Living a Life of Progression, Not Perfection; RelationTIPS; and Confessions of a Dreamer. All three of his books have sold throughout the country and worldwide, making best-seller lists on

After beginning his career as a manager for Regions Bank, Sparks served six years as the executive director of the YMCA Youth Center in downtown Birmingham. He was the youngest executive director in the Birmingham YMCA system and the longest-serving director in the history of the Youth Center. As director, Sparks and his team created a “Life Lab” program for teenagers, balanced the Youth Center’s budget, increased program enrollment and partnerships, and positively impacted over 7,000 students.

Sparks is a graduate of Ramsay High School in Birmingham and the University of North Alabama, where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. His academic accomplishments led Sparks to be elected into the University of North Alabama Hall of Fame. 

Sparks has coached and trained thousands of individuals at hundreds of events across the nation. Some of his previous clients include: Alabama Power Company, Leadership University of Washington, D.C., the City of Jasper, the City of Sylacauga, Alabama A&M University, Regions Bank, Florence City Schools, Birmingham City Schools, A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, Troy University, Herzing University, and the State of Alabama.

Sparks believes that his purpose is "to help others live a life of purpose on purpose."  A Birmingham native, he is the son of Judge Andra and Karen Sparks. He and his wife, Ashley, have two sons, Aidan, 6, and Ashton, 13 months.

Meet Sparks and 39 other authors at the Birmingham Public Library 2018 Local Authors Expo on Saturday, August 11, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., in the Central Library Grand Reading Room. Read more about the event at

Newspaper Clipping Files: A Local History Resource that Never Goes Out of Style

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

Long before databases, digitization, and optical character recognition software made researching newspapers (somewhat) straightforward, the librarians at BPL were quietly clipping and organizing thousands upon thousands of newspaper articles. The result is a collection of local history and biography that is totally unique to the Birmingham Public Library. It represents decades of work and dedication and remains an essential tool for students, genealogists, and historians.

The clipping files are made up of almost 10,000 individual file folders arranged by subject. Although, the subject headings can cause some head scratching even among those of us who have worked with them for years. Looking for the file on Loveman’s Department Store? Well, it’s not filed under Loveman’s or Department Stores or Businesses. It’s actually filed under Merchants – Birmingham – Loveman’s. Since there is no digital access to the Birmingham News prior to 1993, finding articles on a particular topic is challenging. Having the clipping files makes locating articles on subjects such as schools, churches, and neighborhoods much easier.

The earliest clippings date from the 1920s and the files were added to continuously until the mid-1980s. Once indexes to the Birmingham News and the Birmingham Post-Herald were available (first on microfiche and later digitally), the files were no longer updated. However, the collection that remains is absolutely invaluable. Housed in the library’s Southern History Department, the collection takes up a large amount of space. Since it is located in the closed stacks, most patrons never see its true scale and scope.

In recent years, library staff has worked just as diligently to scan, crop, and describe individual clippings as those librarians who, decades ago, created the original files. Thanks to the hard work of another generation of librarians, many of the clippings are now available in our digital collection. No matter the format, preserving and maintaining access to this unique collection will always be important to us.

For more information about the newspaper clipping files, contact the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or visit our Digital Library at

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