Thursday, October 18, 2018

BPL Closed October 18 for Staff Day

All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, October 18, 2018, for Staff  Day.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Common Core and What It Means to You

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

Alabama’s State Board of Education adopted and implemented Common Core Standards in November 2010. These standards have since then shaped how we approach math and language in teaching, parenting, and learning. There are a number of feeder schools to each of our 19 public library locations in Birmingham and its communities, and libraries exist for a number of reasons. One is to allow unlimited access to information, but another is to provide supplemental instruction for K-12 students, parents, and teachers alike. With the introduction of Common Core educational standards, it has become increasingly harder for parents to understand what common core means, how to maneuver strategies, and how to better equip and assist their children with school/homework. Libraries are here to assist all parties involved in this initiative and give you a clearer understanding of how you can and will succeed.

Common Core is defined as a "set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade."

Recognizing and understanding the value and need for clear and easy instruction should be at the forefront of our educational goals. How successful we are in delivering instruction and information to the children, who are our future, depends on our willingness to be open and honest about our level of understanding and how we improve our areas of weaknesses to share those areas where we are strong.

Check out these resources and more on Common Core from your local library!

The Common Core Coaching Book: Strategies to Help Teachers Address the K-5 ELA Standards by Laurie Elish-Piper and Susan K. L'Allier
Common Core Curriculum: United States History, Grades 3-5 by Common Core, Inc.
The Everything Parent's Guide to Common Core Math, Grades K-5: Understand the new Math Standards to Help Your Child Learn and Succeed by Jim Brennan

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminar on October 22 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
When: 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 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 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, October 12, 2018

State Senator Linda Coleman-Madison Presents $13,000 in Donations to Five Birmingham Public Libraries

Alabama State Senator Linda Coleman-Madison, District 20, has given $13,000 in community service grants to five Birmingham Public Library locations in her district. Coleman-Madison, ADA Compliance Administrator for the City of Birmingham, presented the checks to BPL during its Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.

Coleman-Madison's checks were as follows:
Coleman-Madison, a former Birmingham City councilwoman, said she was honored to present checks from her Senate Community Service grants to the five public libraries in Birmingham located within Senate District 20.

“We recognize and appreciate the invaluable service provided by public libraries within communities that serve to bridge the gap in learning to supplement public education while offering access to knowledge, job seekers and access to employment for citizens,” Coleman-Madison said. “To the library staff and administrators, thank you for your hard work and dedication to our libraries and those you serve.”

She added, “It is our hope and desire that these funds may assist with needed materials for programs that supplement extended learning in partnership with local schools in the areas they serve. I am happy to present checks to these regional and branch libraries in Senate District 20."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Meet Miss Fancy

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

October 12 was a day of celebration in Avondale once upon a time. It was Miss Fancy’s birthday.

Miss Fancy, the legendary Queen of Avondale, may be Avondale’s most famous celebrity. She’s the cover girl for Avondale Brewing Company, where she has a special ale named after her. A restaurant on Fifth Avenue is named Fancy’s on 5th in her honor. A current fundraising campaign is raising money to put a life-size statue of her in Avondale Park.

She is the subject of a subplot in Fannie Flagg’s novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Caféa short documentary, Mr. Todd’s Fancy; and Miss Fancy, a play featured in Theatre Downtown’s 2016 season.

Miss Fancy (1871-1954) was a gentle Indian elephant who served as the star attraction at the Birmingham Zoo (when it was located in its original site at Avondale Park) from 1913 to 1934. She was known to routinely stroll through the streets of Avondale, Forest Park, and Woodlawn. Children loved to ride Miss Fancy; she would carry five to seven on her back at a time. She sometimes visited Avondale Elementary School, where the children would run outside to feed her their lunches. She would sometimes wander through the neighborhood eating out of her neighbors’ gardens. One little girl fondly recalled waking up to find Miss Fancy peering in her bedroom window.

And soon a new generation will have the chance to meet Miss Fancy when she stars in a children’s book arriving in January 2019, just in time for Alabama's bicentennial celebrations. The author of Meet Miss Fancy, Irene Latham, will be at Avondale Library on January 13 to introduce the new book, here in the neighborhood that was once Miss Fancy’s stomping grounds.

More information about Meet Miss Fancy is available at

Mr. Todd’s Fancy, a short documentary about Miss Fancy and her trainer John Todd, is available on YouTube. Some of the interviews were filmed at Avondale Library.

More information about the campaign to raise money for a statue of Miss Fancy in Avondale Park is available at

You can also read contemporary newspaper articles about Miss Fancy in BPL’s Digital Collections.

Bards & Brews October Poetry Slam Winners Announced

Jahman Hill and Jonathan Peterson

Bards & Brews presented three cash prizes to its poetry slam winners at the Central Library on Friday, October 5.

The winners were:
Getting judged by the audience!

  • First place ($250 check) – Jahman Hill, a student at The University of Alabama 
  • Second place ($150 check) – Jonathan Peterson of Montgomery, Alabama, who performs as "JP Da Poet"
  • Third place ($50 check) – Andrea Taylor of Montgomery, Alabama

A poetry slam is a competition using elimination rounds during poetry performances that are judged by a panel chosen from the audience. Voice Porter emceed the event.

BPL hosts Bards & Brews monthly except December, usually on the first Friday evening. For more information and upcoming dates, visit Bards & Brews on Facebook or the BPL events calendar.

Prizes were made possible by a generous donation from the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

2018 National Book Awards Finalists Announced

The National Book Foundation has announced its 25 finalists in five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people's literature.The winners in each category will be announced November 14, 2018.

How many have you read?

Finalists for Fiction
Jamel Brinkley, A Lucky Man
Lauren Groff, Florida
Brandon Hobson, Where the Dead Sit Talking
Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers
Sigrid Nunez, The Friend

Finalists for Nonfiction
Colin G. Calloway, The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation
Victoria Johnson, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic
Jeffrey C. Stewart, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
Adam Winkler, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights

Finalists for Poetry
Rae Armantrout, Wobble
Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of
Justin Phillip Reed, Indecency
Jenny Xie, Eye Level

Finalists for Translated Literature
Négar Djavadi, Disoriental, Translated by Tina Kover
Hanne Ørstavik, LoveTranslated by Martin Aitken
Domenico Starnone, Trick, Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri
Yoko Tawada, The Emissary, Translated by Margaret Mitsutani
Olga Tokarczuk, Flights, Translated by Jennifer Croft

Finalists for Young People’s Literature
Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X
M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
Leslie Connor, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Christopher Paul Curtis, The Journey of Little Charlie
Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo

The Opioid Crisis

by Barbara Hutto, Government Documents Department, Central Library

Most of us have heard of the opioid overdose crisis calling attention to a drug that has existed since the 1990s. Like most medications, opioids have both positive and negative sides. On the positive side, they are useful in treating pain associated with an injury or surgery; but at the same time, they can be misused. This is where problems occur.

The Birmingham Public Library Subject Resources page Opioids Crisis, Electronic Links connects to a digital subject guide available 24/7 with full text articles whether you are just interested in the subject of opioids, writing a research paper, or questioning your own use of the drugs.

Pumpkin Painting for Fall Holidays

by Teresa Ceravolo, Southside Branch Library

Teens at the Southside Branch Library enjoyed decorating a personal pumpkin for Halloween. They had so much fun, I knew it was time to get in the fall decorating spirit.

The weather is finally getting cooler so it is the perfect time for all crafters to decorate our homes and offices for fall and Halloween. Local craft stores sell the artificial pumpkins perfect for painting or carving. If you need the real thing, purchase pumpkins at the local grocery store or farmer's market. Get the family involved with the decorating, which can be carving, painting, or adding purchased decals. Group the completed pumpkins together on a table inside or outside on the porch. Finally, make pumpkins do double duty by decorating only one side of your pumpkin. After Halloween, turn the pumpkin around and display the plain side through Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Tina Samuel Learns about Diversity in Libraries at 2018 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in New Mexico

by Tina Samuel, Titusville Branch Library

L-R: Tina Samuel and Titusville Library branch manager Amanda Jenkins

My name is Tina Samuel. I am a Library Assistant III at the Titusville Branch Library. I was given the opportunity to attend the 2018 Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC). This is a somewhat unique and rare opportunity considering the years that accumulate between each gathering.

JCLC was first held in 2006 in Dallas, Texas; in 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri; and in September 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference brings together a diverse group of librarians, library staff, library supporters, and community participants to explore issues of diversity in libraries, and how they affect the ethnic communities who use library services.

Although I may not ever be able to convey the full experience gained by attending this conference, I will attempt to allow you to peak in.

My journey began in a general session led by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who was born in Old Picacho, New Mexico, in 1954. Sáenz is a recognized novelist, poet, and essayist. He started his session by encouraging us as library workers to appreciate what we do. He said that we are “the gate keepers of American culture and passion for living comes through reading books.” He also added that “children become what we educate them to become.” These, among many other profound statements by Saenz, really made me think and held me accountable to the role I play in our library system.

Benjamin Saenz shared stories about his childhood and how being different affected his path through life. He graced us with a reading from one of his favorite poems, "Homage to My Hips" by Lucille Clifton:
these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!
We were engulfed in his words. Yet there was still more to come.

Most of the sessions I attended were interactive and lead by a panel of diverse librarians. They were very blunt and open, which meant they didn’t mind questions from the attendees; in fact they encouraged it. In the majority of the sessions People of Color (POC) shared their personal testimonials. They shared stories of how they had to deal with microaggressions and the lack of affirmation because of their race, gender, or sexuality. We were urged to be catalysts for change. Our presence alone should hold others accountable for what they say and/or do. This brought about a quote from James Baldwin: “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?” Although this may be considered an over-exaggeration, many of our POCs walk into a “burning house” every day. 

Although the conference was centered on POC, it also included those that are excluded daily. We were educated on gender diversity and transgender inclusivity in libraries. We were introduced to the concept of incorporating mentorship into our libraries. We learned tactics on how to really hear what someone is saying and how to have a productive conversation with someone that we normally would not. We met the publishers of Librarians with Spines and I was gifted the book. We learned that culture trumps strategy, and that we need to get out of the boat and take back depression and internalized racism. We were given tips on how to deal with work overload and how to determine what we are supposed to do versus what we find ourselves doing.

I will leave you with a quote that was used many times and will forever live in my psyche: “You don’t get credit for doing what is right.”

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for October 16 at Central Library

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Tuesday, October 16 (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.

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.

West End Branch Library Hosts Free Credit Review Workshop

by Denise Ford, West End Branch Library

Gilberto Herrera and Kimberly Callines of Birmingham Urban League

Patrons of the West End Branch Library gained valuable knowledge on how to check their finances and improve their credit score during a program held October 3.

Kimberly Callines, housing counselor, and Gilberto Herrera, program manager, both from the Birmingham Urban League, Inc., presented a free credit review workshop.

The Birmingham Urban League is dedicated to empowering the community through three core programs: housing, workforce development, and GED. The mission of the Birmingham Urban League is to assist all racial and ethnic groups, particularly African Americans and the urban poor, in achieving social and economic equality. One of the ways the organization accomplishes its mission is by hosting financial literacy programs, such as the credit review workshop held at the West End Library, in Birmingham's 99 communities.

The Birmingham Urban League wants to encourage, empower, and educate those who desire to create the life they want to live. The agency's goal is to educate, giving the public resources and steps based on each individual circumstance.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Generous Response of Patrons Contributes to Successful Food Drive at Eastwood Library

by Shawn Caddell, Eastwood Branch Library

The 2018 Food For Fines campaign at the Birmingham Public Library's 19 locations drew to a close on September 30.

Every September, public libraries across the nation promote the Food for Fines campaign, allowing patrons to give non-perishable food items in lieu of money for overdue fines. The campaign has always been successful at the Eastwood Branch Library, but this year was different.

With the August 1 inception of the automatic renewal feature, many of our patrons avoided incurring the overdue fines they had in the past. As such, our borrowed shopping cart stood empty for a while until some curious patrons asked about its function. Once we told them about the food drive, however, our patrons began demonstrating their generosity by donating food in the absence of overdue fines, and the Eastwood Library was able to help the Eastern Area Christian Ministries stock its food pantry.

Our hearts are considerably warmed by the generosity of our patrons and that speaks volumes (no pun intended).

BPL Databases with Accurate Information Available for All Your Subject Needs

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The internet can be a wonderful resource, but many people do not realize that there are no laws, rules, regulations, or anything else that guarantees the accuracy or currency of anything online. There is great information to be found, but if you don’t know how to separate the good from the bad, it’s easy to unknowingly misinform yourself. That’s one of the greatest benefits of the subject resources and databases available online through the Birmingham Public Library. The sources recommended and linked through the site have been vetted by information professionals, and you can be sure you’re getting “the good stuff” if you access them through the library.

A lot of the databases listed are by subscription, meaning that the library pays for them just as we pay for magazine and reference books. Patrons of the library access these online resources at no cost, just the same as they do print materials, except that with many of them, patrons don’t even have to be in the library. We’re always glad to see you, but when you need information after the library has closed, it’s a snap to get it. The databases also provide for constant revision and updating, so the information is more accurate and current than it would be in a print resource.

Another advantage of using the databases is the citation tool provided. If you are working on a school or work paper, you can instantly find out the correct way to cite your resources. No more looking it up in a style manual; you can choose from a menu citing the work by MLA, APA, Chicago Style, and many others. What a time saver!

You can select peer-reviewed articles, full-text articles, or specific formats: charts, images, graphs, etc. You can also research current events to form your own informed decision. By viewing Opposing Viewpoints in Context you can put in a search term on just about any subject. Experts on all sides of an issue have stated their best cases, so you can read all of them to help you make up your mind.

To access the databases, go to and click on Databases. The next screen will show you a drop down menu from which you can select over a hundred resources. Choose the one you want and click on Go. If you’re not in a library, you’ll be prompted for your library card number. Some of our databases are not licensed for off-site access (such as Ancestry Library Edition), so you’ll have to be at the library to connect. Your library card opens an entire virtual library for your convenience.

If you’re working on a college paper and need articles, choose Academic Search Premier. If you need information on current events, choose Infotrac or General OneFile. If you need to study for an entrance or occupation exam, go to LearningExpressLibrary. Need an automobile manual? Choose Chilton Automotive. Not all the resources listed are paid subscriptions; some are websites that provide great info, such as MedlinePlus and Tuition Funding Sources. Some are print resources that are available in digital format, such as the Merck Manuals and the CIA World Factbook. All provide opportunities to find accurate and current information.

Please don’t forget that your local libraries are staffed with trained information professionals who can help you find what you need, and teach you how to do research on any topic. Patrons sometimes apologize for “interrupting” or “disturbing” us, and I also answer the same way: That’s what I’m here for! So the next time you need the best information, visit the library either physically or virtually and make sure you get “the good stuff.” If you’re at the library and need some help, please ask us!

UAB Into the Streets Volunteers Visit Southside Branch Library

by Teresa Ceravolo, Southside Branch Library

Southside Library branch manager Teresa Ceravolo, right, and Into the
Streets volunteers

On Saturday, October 6, 2018, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Leadership Service Council sponsored Into the Streets, a bi-annual event in the spring and fall where students perform community service projects in the area. The mission of the event is to encourage partnerships that improve education, health, economic prosperity, and quality of life.

One group visited the Southside Branch Library. They dusted all the shelves, cleaned windows, and placed mulch around the tree. In just a couple of hours, these wonderful volunteers gave the library polish and shine. Thank you UAB and volunteers!

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