Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Alabama Public Library Service Conducting Online Survey and Town Meetings for Five-Year Plan Feedback

The Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) will host an online survey at your public library through November 18 to assist in gathering information to develop APLS’ next five-year plan. This plan is needed in order to receive federal funds. The survey may be taken online at or at one of the 225 public libraries around the state.

APLS will also conduct town meetings at seven locations throughout Alabama during November. Agency director Nancy Pack said, “These meetings will provide an opportunity for community leaders and all citizens to explain what they think about Alabama’s public libraries, what they value in libraries, and what they think libraries should provide. Their voices will be heard by those who will write the next Five-Year Plan for Library Development in Alabama.”

The meetings will be held at these locations and times:
November 1, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Baldwin County Cooperative Building Auditorium
November 2, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Ozark-Dale County Public Library
November 3, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.,Tuscaloosa Public Library
November 3, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Homewood Public Library
November 14, 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m., Athens-Limestone Public Library
November 15, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Boaz Public Library
November 16, 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library

Why is it important to make your voice heard?
The Alabama Public Library Service is the state library agency. It serves all citizens of Alabama through services provided to local libraries and state employees.

APLS receives over $2.3 million in Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) federal funds each year from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the federal agency that governs these funds. Allocated by Congress, these dollars are used
to supplement the APLS Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, provide grants to individual libraries, provide statewide projects and databases (Learning Express, Chilton, Ancestry Library Edition), and provide additional resources for all Alabama citizens.

By legislation and laws, the expenditure of these funds must be in accordance with the goals and objectives of the APLS five-year plan. This plan must be approved by the IMLS. The current plan expires on September 30, 2017. Information received from citizens, library administrators, and local state and national leaders will be addressed in the development of the next five-year plan covering October 1, 2017-September 30, 2022.

To learn more about APLS, visit their website.

Springville Road Library's Afterthoughts Book Group to Focus on Emerging Technology

by Kelly Laney, Adult Department, Springville
Road Regional Branch Library

There are so many exciting new technologies in the world that it’s tough to keep abreast of them all. The Afterthoughts, a nonfiction reading group which meets at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, has come up with an interesting solution for their November 15 meeting: each member of the group will choose one or more emerging technologies for light research, then get together to share their findings.

Copies of books and articles will be available in the adult department so that patrons can pick up one or more and read about whatever interests them. 3D printing (especially new research that involves printing with human cells for medical use), virtual reality goggles as teaching tools, new technologies in archaeology, the effect of the usage of personal “smart” devices by our military personnel, and zero-net-energy construction are some of the topics we’ve pulled, but any new technology is acceptable. Our world and lives are changing rapidly, and what we only dreamed about yesterday could be available tomorrow. Come join our discussion and find out what’s on the cutting edge.

The Afterthoughts meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 2:00 p.m. in the meeting room at the Springville Road Library. Light refreshments are served and all adults are welcome to attend. Participants are not required to read or share on any topic; everyone’s welcome to attend just to hear about new technologies.

For more information, please call Kelly Laney at 226-4083. Visit the Birmingham Public Library's calendar of events for upcoming Afterthoughts meetings and other programs scheduled at the Birmingham Public Library.

Money Matters – What Every Woman Should Know About Money Workshop Scheduled for November 2, 2016

It’s never too late to start building a better understanding of your personal finances and begin developing a plan for the future. To assist you in this endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is partnering with the staff of the Regions Institute for Financial Education at UAB to offer a series of Money Matters workshops at the Central Library on the first Wednesday of each month from July 2016 to May 2017. Please join us on the dates below to take part in discussions about a variety of money management issues and learn ways to help you achieve your economic goals.

When: First Wednesday of the month
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Place: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Building/Richard Arrington Auditorium

11/2/2016 – What Every Woman Should Know About Money
12/7/2016 – Protecting Yourself Against Targeted Fraud
1/4/2017 – Dealing With Debt
2/1/2017 – Where to Invest Your College Money
3/1/2017 – Your Credit Report
4/5/2017 – Saving Through Tax Refunds
5/3/2017 – Five Keys to Investing Success

For more information about the workshop series and other financial literacy resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Southern History Book of the Month: The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

The Shadow Tiger: Billy McDonald, Wingman to Chennault 
William C. McDonald III & Barbara L. Evenson

One of the more memorable experiences of my teen years was the opportunity to interview an African American veteran of World War I for a school assignment. Though I would now ask many more questions (and have better questions to ask), I can remember a feeling of awe as he gave his reminiscences of the war and his life afterwards, including the deadly Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. It was a privilege to speak with him and it is one of my treasured memories since our World War I veterans are all gone.

Now that veterans of World War II are going the way of their Great War predecessors, every scrap of information about their lives and careers is valuable—and as I looked through The Shadow Tiger, I was thinking, “Why have I not heard of this man before?” The Shadow Tiger is William McDonald’s account of the life and exploits of his father, Billy “Mac” McDonald, from his childhood in Fairfield, Alabama, to his dreams of becoming a flyer like Birmingham’s only World War I flying ace, Jimmie Meissner, through his career as an instructor for the Chinese Air Force, to combat pilot and wingman for Claire Lee Chennault of the Flying Tigers. The book is put together almost like a scrapbook, packed with illustrations and excerpts from Mac’s personal letters and journals, so that reading it is almost like hearing him tell his own story. Some of the excerpts are lighthearted glimpses of encounters with different cultures, such as a Chinese dinner in which one of the dishes was elephant trunk with mushrooms, accompanied by deer tendons with ham, bear paws, and bean sprouts. But one letter during an assault on Nanking by the Japanese strikes a far more serious note:
There probably is one of the greatest Wars coming up in this part of the world that can be imagined. At present the situation looks serious one day and calmed down the next and it is practically impossible to guess what is going to happen. It is quite possible that a World War will be the outcome—naturally we are hoping for the best and hoping that our Diplomatic Corps can take care of the situation by wielding the pen . . .
This letter is dated September 1, 1937—years in advance of either the German invasion of Poland or the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. McDonald’s letter was chillingly prophetic.
And when the next world war did come, he had just applied for leave because he had been in China for four years and felt like he needed some time at home, but since two pilots were already on home leave, he had to wait. This was on November 31, 1941:
When Pearl Harbor and the attack on Hong Kong and the Philippines happened, Mac flew into Hong Kong from Rangoon about 10:00 pm.

The first thing he said to me was, “Damn! Am I glad you didn’t let me go home as I requested about 10 days ago. If I were home now I would be the unhappiest man in Alabama.”
There is now a permanent exhibit in honor of Billy McDonald in the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall at Maxwell Air Force Base. There is much that might be said of his distinguished career, but perhaps the best words to honor him come from his friend and colleague Lt. General Claire Lee Chennault: "Williamson and McDonald are outstanding pilots . . . I would choose these two men to accompany me into combat, and that is the highest compliment a combat formation leader can pay."

If The Shadow Tiger interests you, come and meet the author! William C. McDonald III will be at Central Library on Thursday, November 10, at 1:00 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Who are the veterans in your life? Listen to their stories while you can.

For more information:
Billy McDonald feature article in the Jefferson Journal
“Three Men on a Flying Trapeze” historical marker
Maxwell Air Force Base Enlisted Heritage Hall
Claire Lee Chennault at Arlington Cemetery
The Last WWII Vets of the Flying Tigers

Friday, October 21, 2016

Registration Open For November 2016 Computer Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the November 2016 Class Schedule. During this month, we include classes on a variety of topics including computer skills, career guidance, and genealogy. 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 November 2016 Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the November 2016 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Expanded Mango Languages Learning System Offers More Languages, ESL Courses, Foreign Film Tutorials, and More

by Carrie Campbell, Arts, Literature and Sports Department, Central Library

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) now offers a greatly expanded package of the Mango Languages online language-learning system to patrons.

Mango is free to all BPL patrons and can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Each lesson combines real life situations and audio from native speakers with simple, clear instructions. The courses are presented with an appreciation for cultural nuance and real-world application by focusing on the four key elements of language learning: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture.

Mango now offers access to:
  • 60 foreign language courses
  • 17 English courses taught completely in the user’s native language
  •  the opportunity to learn through foreign film with Mango Premiere™
  • a variety of specialty mini courses, like Pirate, Medical Spanish, romance courses, and many more

Mango can be accessed at the library, remotely, or even on-the-go with apps for iPhone®, Android™, Kindle®, and Nook®. Stay tuned for more information on how to accomplish this!

Quick Tip: How do I sign up for Mango on my computer?

There are two ways to access Mango:

From home (remotely)
1. Go to
2. Click on the Mango icon under Spotlight.
3. Click on Mango Languages.
4. Enter BPL card number and PIN for authentication.
5. You will now be directed to the Mango login page, where you can log in or create a profile with your e-mail address and password.

Inside the library
1. Follow “from home” directions above.
2. You will not be asked for your BPL card number.
3. You will now be directed to the Mango login page, where you can log in or create a profile with your e-mail address and password.

BPL card holders can access Mango through the library website at For more information, contact Carrie Campbell at 205-226-3679.

Coalesce: Collaborative Work by Joseph and Misty Bennett Exhibit Scheduled at Central Library November 3-December 30, 2016

What: Coalesce: Collaborative Work by Joseph and Misty Bennett exhibit
When: November 3-December 30, 2016, during library hours
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery

"These collaborative works started out as an experimental conversation between two artists.”

These are the reflective words of artists Joseph and Misty Bennett. From November 1 through December 30, 2016, the Birmingham Public Library will showcase the work of both artists in the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. A process was developed wherein one artist would begin a drawing, then hand it over to the other, and they would continue to pass it back and forth until both felt there was nothing more to add. It was a reactionary and spontaneous way of working, which led to a sense of discovery and a deeper understanding of self for each artist.

Come meet the artists at the opening reception from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, at the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. Both artists are faculty in the University of Montevallo Art Department.

Le Mont Saint-Michel Revisited

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France

The Archangel Michael told Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, to build a great abbey on a tall rock island out in the tidal flat. Aubert hesitated and Michael appeared to him again. But the stone needed to build the abbey was in quarries miles away, the island was out in the bay, and the bay had 12-foot tides. When the Archangel came a third time, he pushed his finger into Aubert’s skull, and Aubert built the abbey on top of the rock island—literally on top. He did not have the pinnacle knocked off to create a flat space to build upon. No, he built up the island and created a great flat space for a large church, a banqueting hall, and a cloister, all up at the level of the island’s pinnacle stone wrestled into place with oxen and vast human labor, as things were done one thousand years ago.

Mont Saint-Michel took generations to complete. It became one of the great Christian strongholds of the Middle Ages. Many stories and important people are wound into its history. Fortunately, we have the great American historian Henry Adams to collect and tell those stories in his timeless Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, recently blogged here.

Since then, a friend and I visited the island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and have these photographs to share.

Recovering the Classics Contest Winners Announced

The winners of the Birmingham Public Library’s Recovering the Classics contest are:

1st: Metamorphosis by Julie Borden
2nd: The Time Machine by Eric Poland
3rd: Cyrano de Bergerac by Veronique Vanblaere

1st: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Alexandra Foreman
2nd: A Tale of Two Cities by Zoe Jacks
3rd: The Secret Garden by Emma Thornsberry

Adult Honorable Mentions
Frankenstein by Hillary Floyd
The Secret Garden by Amber Orr

Youth Honorable Mentions
Around the World in Eighty Days by Elle Squires
Moby Dick by Hunter Criddle
The Three Musketeers by Cecilia Kong
Arabian Nights by Rachael George

To view more winning covers in BPL's Recovering the Classics contest, visit

About the contest: The Birmingham Public Library partnered with Books-A-Million to host a contest for Alabama artists of all ages and abilities to design a cover for a classic book. Over 50 people submitted their cover designs to be judged in the adult and youth divisions. Prizes included the artist's cover design on a classic book created by Books-A-Million's Espresso Book Machine, Books-A-Million gift cards, and Recovering the Classics posters. The three judges were David Blake, librarian and head of the Fiction Department at BPL; Gary Chapman, professor of painting and art at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Meredith Knight, studio programs coordinator at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

"Alabama has amazing artists, and the judges had a very difficult decision narrowing down the winners," said Laura Gentry, chair of the Recovering the Classics Committee. "We are excited to share their re-imagined book covers for classic books."

Recovering the Classics is a crowdsourced collection of original covers for classic books in the public domain created by illustrators, typographers, and designers of all stripes. Its partners include the Creative Action Network, Harvard Book Store, Plympton's DailyLit, the White House, the New York Public Library, and the Digital Public Library of America.

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop to Be Held at Central Library on October 25

What: D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home
When: Tuesday October 25, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Home ownership is a tremendous responsibility and sometimes the pressure of making monthly mortgage payments can be quite a heavy burden to bear. If you have become concerned about your mortgage payments and are fearful that foreclosure is a real possibility, then plan on attending D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home at the Central Library.

The workshop will provide information about home retention, foreclosure options, and special programs offered to Alabama homeowners. In recent years, the Obama administration has implemented a number of initiatives to assist homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and otherwise struggling with their monthly mortgage payments. The majority of these programs are administered through the U.S. Treasury Department and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD). So, empower yourself and your community by learning more about your options regarding foreclosure!

Established in 2000 and headquartered in Forest Park, Georgia, D&E, A Financial Education and Training Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) HUD approved counseling organization that is dedicated to developing and empowering communities by working with individuals and families to provide access to financial education, resources, and programs. D&E’s team of banking and financial industry professionals believe that by giving people the knowledge and tools to make better financial decisions, they can positively impact the foreclosure crisis.

For further information about the workshop, as well as other personal financial management resources available at the Birmingham Public Library, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 205-226-3691.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Central Library Hosting How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business Seminar on October 27

What: How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business seminar
When: Thursday, October 27, 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: The seminar is free but advance registration is required. To register, go to the Birmingham SCORE website at and click on the seminar title in the Upcoming Events section.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host several small business seminars through November 2016 that will take place at the Central Library. The small business seminars are being offered by BPL in partnership with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the Birmingham chapter of SCORE, a national nonprofit comprised of volunteers willing to share their business knowledge and experience with prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners. For over 50 years, SCORE mentors have helped millions of business owners start or grow their business.

How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business is presented by Josh Andrews, a Birmingham lawyer specializing in legal issues of concern to small business owners.

For more information about seminars and other resources about small business development available at BPL, contact Jim Murray of Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Learn How People Interact With Your Business Online at Central Library’s Google Insights and Analytics Workshop on November 9

What: Google Insights and Analytics workshop
When: Wednesday November 9, 2016, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/2nd Floor/Youth Department/Story Castle

Are you getting the most out of your website? Do you understand how people are finding your business online and how they are interacting with you once they get there?

For answers to these questions, please join the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development and Zeekee, a local digital marketing firm, on November 9 at the Central Library for a workshop that will introduce you to the free tools Google offers that allow you and your business to get a better handle on customer behavior.

Google's Insights and Analytics tools are powerful and free. Google Insights is part of the Google My Business program and shows you how people interact with your Google listing. Google Analytics is by far the most used analytics tool on the planet and gives you data on how people interact with your website.

Zeekee presenters will teach you how to utilize these free Google resources to help you make the most of your online customer interactions. It's highly recommended that you have your website and your Google My Business listing set up prior to the event.

Space is limited, so contact Valencia S. Fisher with the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development at as early as possible to reserve a spot.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Holiday Reads

Christmas time is here.  What?  Hold the phone.  It is NOT Christmas time.  Oh, but yes.  If you haven’t seen Christmas decorations in your local store yet, give it a week.  Two at the most.  The Halloween masks and candy will be replaced with bows and wrapping paper.  To get you into the holiday spirit (Bah! Humbug!), publishers are releasing their Christmas-themed titles just in time for gift giving season.  Descriptions are from the publisher.

The holidays have arrived, and Hannah and her good pal Lisa have agreed to provide all the goodies for the town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. But before anyone can say “Bah, humbug!” a Santa-sized sackful of trouble ensues. Like the fact that Lisa’s husband will be playing Mr. Claus to his ex-girlfriend Phyllis Bates’ Mrs. Claus. Or that before the curtains even go up Phyllis is found dead in the snow—wearing a costume that the real Mrs. Claus would put on the naughty list. Soon after the suspects pile up faster than snowdrifts in a blizzard, while a merry murderer remains on the loose. With clues even harder to find, it might take a visit from ghosts of Christmas past to wrap up this mystery in time for the holidays . . .

Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter's daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinnerKendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin s heart. Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

A Shoe Addict's ChristmasA Shoe Addict's Christmas  by Beth Harbison (Oct. 25)
Noelle is not a fan of the holidays and to make matters worse, she is at a crossroads in her life when it seems that love and adventure are no longer possible.  When she stays late at her job in a department store on a snowy Christmas Eve she accidentally gets locked in after closing.  She isn't too concerned about the prospect of spending the night in the store...until a woman appears out of nowhere and tells Noelle that she's her guardian angel.  Soon Noelle finds herself camped out in the shoe department facing several "ghosts" of Christmases past, present, and future...Will visiting the holidays of yesterday and tomorrow help Noelle see the true spirit of Christmas?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Halloween Events at Birmingham Public Library Include Super Heroes Costume Party, Movies, Storytimes, and Giveaways

Even adults are getting into the Halloween mood at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL). On Friday, October 21, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals (BPLYP) are hosting a Super Heroes Save the Library costume party at the Central Library.

Attendees who come dressed as their favorite super hero will enjoy a night of music, drinks, and dancing while helping raise awareness of the important resources provided by BPL’s 19 library locations and providing money for public programs. Buy tickets at $10 in advance online at

The BPLYP's costume party is among several activities celebrating the spooky holiday taking place at many BPL locations across Birmingham during the month of October. From a fall festival at the Smithfield Library to storytime with Ms. Eve at the Avondale Regional Branch Library, from a Hallo-Read Fall Celebration at the North Avondale Branch Library to scary movies at various libraries, there are plenty of fun events to enjoy.

In addition, all 19 BPL locations across Birmingham will be giving away free treats to library patrons on Halloween, Monday, October 31, 2016.

To see more Halloween programs at BPL in October, visit the BPL calendar of events and search for "seasonal" under Event Category.

Happy Halloween from the staff at the Birmingham Public Library!

Central Library to Host Google Workshop for Small Business Owners on October 25

What: Google Workshop for Small Business Owners
When: Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Did you know that 97% of consumers look for local goods and services online?

And only 37% of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine.

If you are a current business owner and you want to gain control of the information Google displays about your business in Google Search and Google Maps, then this workshop is for you. A Google Trusted Photographer and Trusted Verifier will be present to help your business get online and allow you to choose what people see when they “google” you.

The Birmingham Public Library and the City’s Office of Economic Development are partnering with Google and Zeekee, a local internet marketing firm, to offer a workshop aimed at helping put every business in Birmingham on the map—including yours—for free.

Space for the workshop is limited, so please register with Valencia S. Fisher in the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development at as early as possible to reserve a spot.

For more information about the workshop 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 e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Let’s Put Birmingham on the Map!