Thursday, December 26, 2019

BPL Closed for the Holidays December 24–25

All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, December 24 & 25, for the holidays.

As always, our virtual library is open 24/7 for your convenience.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Christmas Card

by Jim Baggett, Archives Department, Central Library

The custom of sending cards and letters during the Christmas season became popular in the early nineteenth century. In Victorian England children wrote, in their very best handwriting, greetings to their parents. And adults, more and more, were writing Christmas letters to one another.

An Englishman named Sir Henry Cole (founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum) is credited with sending the first printed Christmas cards in 1843. The card depicted a happy family, each holding a glass of wine, and the caption read, “A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU.” Cole had asked an artist to design this special hand colored lithograph card that he could send to friends. The printer who produced Cole’s card ran off extra copies that he sold for one shilling.

Richard H. Pease, a printer from Albany, New York, is believed to have sent the first specially printed American Christmas card in 1851.

The first company to mass-produce and sell Christmas cards was Charles Goodall & Sons of London in 1862. By the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century Christmas cards had become a fixture of the holiday season.

And almost as long as Christmas cards have been a source of delight for holiday revelers, they have been the cause of intense labor for those who deliver the cards. As early as 1822 the postmaster of Washington, D.C., complained that he had to employ an additional 16 mailmen during the Christmas season to handle all the greetings that local citizens sent to one another. He asked, in vain, for a law setting a limit on the number of cards any one person could send. “I don’t know what we’ll do,” he wrote, “if this keeps on.” It has kept on. And even in the world of social media Americans still send two billion Christmas cards each year (along with 500 million e-cards).

Several vintage Christmas cards from the late 1800s and early 1900s are preserved in the Birmingham Public Library Archives, including the ones pictured here.

Janine Langston Named New Birmingham Public Library Deputy Director

L-R Karyn Davis-West, Central Library Regional Manager; Floyd Council, BPL Executive Director; Janine Langston, new BPL Deputy Director, Damein Baity, BPL Chief Financial Officer; Yolanda Hardy, BPL Regional Manager East/North.

Janine Langston, a 33-year veteran employee of the Birmingham Public Library, has been named as BPL’s new deputy director. She replaces Sandi Lee, who retired as BPL deputy director in December 2018. Langston's promotion was announced during the BPL Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, December 10. 

Langston, of Pleasant Grove, has a bachelor’s degree in interior furnishings and equipment from Auburn University (1982) and a Master of Library Science from The University of Alabama (1988). She is active in several professional organizations, including the BPL Staff Association, Jefferson County Library Association, Alabama Library Association, American Library Association, Public Library Association, and Association for Library Services to Children.

Langston began her BPL career at Wylam Branch Library in 1986, where she spent six years as a neighborhood librarian. She was then promoted and spent seven years (1992-1999) as children’s librarian and regional department head at Avondale Regional Branch Library. From 1999 to the present (20 years), Langston has served as BPL’s Literacy, Outreach and Youth Services coordinator, developing and overseeing literacy outreach projects and system-wide youth services.

Prior to being appointed as BPL deputy director, Langston served as BPL western regional manager from 2010 to the present and BPL northern regional manager from 2017 to the present.

Floyd Council, executive director of the Birmingham Public Library, said BPL is thankful for the Board of Trustees and Personnel Committee's report on the selection of Langston as deputy director.

"I am personally so grateful and look forward to working with Mrs. Langston as we lead BPL forward," Council said.

A graduate of the Junior League of Birmingham Leadership Institute, Langston has won several awards and recognition, including the Childcare Resources 2007 Children’s Advocate Award, Jefferson County Library 2008 Shining Star Award for Born to Read @ Your Library, and honorable mention in the 2009 American Library Association Outreach and Diversity Fair.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

BPL Receives $10,000 Grant for Alabama 2020 Census Outreach

The Birmingham Public Library has been awarded a $10,000 grant to promote, educate, and encourage participation in the Alabama 2020 Census.

BPL was among 34 government agencies and organizations Governor Kay Ivey announced December 1 will receive a combined $1 million in funds provided by the Legislature to increase Alabama’s self-response rate during the 2020 Census this spring.

“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of what a full and accurate count in the 2020 Census means for Alabama," Governor Ivey said. "Those numbers have a direct impact on billions of dollars in funding that affect schools, community programs, health care, job opportunities and just about every other aspect of our state. I thank our legislators for allocating funds for these outreach efforts, and I also commend local leaders and organizations for being proactive in these efforts.”

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funding allocated by the Legislature in the 2019-2020 Education Trust Fund Budget. ADECA acts as the state’s liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau and the lead state agency for 2020 Census outreach and preparation.

Governor Ivey’s Alabama Counts Initiative aims to ensure a maximum count in the 2020 Census, which begins in mid-March 2020 when every Alabama household address will receive an invitation to respond to the census.

BPL’s $10,000 grant will be used to implement programs and outreach initiatives to increase awareness and participation in the census.

Read about each of the grant recipients by clicking here.

Holiday Rhythms Christmas Music Sing-Along at Central Library December 17

What: Holiday Rhythms Christmas Music Sing-Along and Music Forum
When: Tuesday, December 17, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium/4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public

Join us for a night of family fun singing, learning, and performing holiday rhythms together. Rosalind Crawford, music instructor; Marvin Pullom, pianist.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Adults and Peer Pressure: How to Live a Healthy, Balanced Life

Alisha Johnson, Pratt City Branch Library

Often times when we hear the words “peer pressure” we think of teens and others who are still at that stage of impressionability. Rarely do we think that adult peer pressure exists and that it could even be as damaging to one group as that of the aforementioned. However, adult peer pressure is very real and the effects of it could be that of a negative or positive tone.

Surely we have all heard of the idiom “keeping up with the Joneses,” and how this simple yet complex phrase has destroyed many families and lives. It speaks explicitly to the peer pressure that one feels when there is a perceived failure to keep up with one’s neighbor. In most cases it is materialistic. Many adults feel an overwhelming urge to work extra hours, drive a certain car, have the highest paying job, and acquire more in order to avoid emotions of inferiority. All of these things could have negative effects on a person’s mental health as well as physical health.

Allow me to share with you how peer pressure can be seen as a positive. During the spring and summer months, my neighbors sit on their porches and watch as all the beautiful flowers bloom and the green grass begins to grow. They confer with one another about vacation plans and their next home improvement ideas. It is not until that one neighbor, you know the one who really doesn’t talk with the others, pulls out his lawn equipment and begins to mow the lawn. It is in that moment that others follow suit. It is almost like an unspoken rule that when one person cuts their lawn, we all cut our lawn to keep our neighborhood clean and aesthetically pleasing. This type of peer pressure is not as intentional as the peer pressure that teens and children experience. Nevertheless, if adult peer pressure is not acknowledged and cultivated in the right manner, the outcome could negatively affect your physical and mental health. Ultimately, we should all do what is right for us and stay true to ourselves.

Check out these resources from your local library!

The Power of Others: Peer Pressure, Groupthink, and How the People around Us Shape Everything We Do by Michael Bond
The Power of Validation: Arming Your Child against Bullying, Peer Pressure, Addiction, Self-Harm & Out-of-Control Emotions by Karyn D. Hall, Melissa H. Cook
Discover Your True North by Bill George

Friday, December 06, 2019

Tuskegee Archivist to Give Polk Exhibit Lecture December 7 at Springville Road Regional Library

Dana Chandler, Tuskegee University archivist, will present a lecture on the Polk Exhibit at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, December 7. 

The Polk Exhibit, a series of photographs featuring the work of renowned black photographer P.H. Polk, is now on display at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.

The exhibit spotlighting Polk, considered one of the most influential black photographers of all time,  provides a visual glimpse of 20th-century life on the Tuskegee University campus and surrounding community.

 A reception and opening lecture by Dana Chandler, an archivist/historian at Tuskegee University, will take place at Springville Road Library at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 7. The event is free to the public. Call 205-226-4081 for more information.

Chandler, a history expert on Tuskegee University, said much of Polk’s work was centered around what was then known as Tuskegee Institute, and celebrated family life, national and local elite individuals, and specific events occurring on campus. 

The exhibit, available for public viewing through December 30, 2019, is being sponsored by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and the Southern Literary Trail.

A graduate of Auburn University, Chandler works as the University Archivist/Associate Professor at Tuskegee University. He is co-author of To Raise Up the Man Farthest Down: Tuskegee University’s Advancements in Human Health, 1881-1987 (published in 2018 by University of Alabama Press). Chandler has made over 50 presentations at a variety of venues and teaches history in the Department of History and Political Science.

The Polk Exhibit was originally supposed to be in the downtown Central Library 4th Floor Gallery but was moved due to the East Building being closed for construction of the Monumental Stairs Project replacing broken escalators.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

BPL Closed for Inventory Day December 12

All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, December 12, for Inventory Day.

As part of our ongoing efforts to provide high-quality library services, it is important to devote a day to housekeeping projects. Some of the projects include shifting books to create more space on the shelves, discarding books that are too damaged to circulate, and reading the shelves to ensure that the books are in order and can be located. These projects are done to better serve our patrons for the coming year.

As always, our virtual library is open 24/7 for your convenience.

12 Days of Sweet Treats for the Holidays

by Leigh Wilson, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

With the holidays approaching, it is fun to think of baking sweet holiday treats for family and friends to enjoy. The Birmingham Public Library has many wonderful holiday cookbooks with great recipes to inspire you. Imagine yourself in Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, as you bake recipes that are sure to please your friends and family.

Best Holiday Sweets & Treats: Good and Simple Family Favorites to Bake and Share by Daniella Malfitano (2016)
Christmas Candy Book by Lou Seibert Pappas (2002)
Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen by Georgeann Brennan (2009)
Cookies for Christmas edited by Jennifer Dorland Darling (1999)
Creating the Happiest of Holidays by Susan Whit Sullivan (2009)
Healthy Holidays: Total Health Entertaining All Year Round by Marilu Henner (2002)
"Holiday Baking Championship Recipes" at
Ideas for Entertaining from the African-American Kitchen by Angela Shelf Medearis (1997)
The Kids Holiday Baking Book: 150 Favorite Dessert Recipes from Around the World by Rosemary Black (2003)
Out of the Box Holiday Baking: Gingerbread Cupcakes, Peppermint Cheesecake, and More Festive Semi-Homemade Sweets by Hayley Parker (2018)
Taste of Home Christmas (2019)
The 12 Days of Christmas Cookbook: The Ultimate in Effortless Holiday Entertaining compiled by Marla Tipton (2010)

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

JCPLA Presents its 2019 Library Champion Awards

2019 JCPLA Library Champions: L-R Wardine Alexander, Gary Gerlach, Linda Coleman-Madison, Linda Chastain, Adrian Zebot, Joe Perez, and Charles Ghigna. Absent  is Tamisha Parker, who had to leave early.
The Jefferson County Public Library Association (JCPLA) on December 3 hosted its 2019 Library Champion Awards Luncheon honoring eight citizens for their support of public libraries throughout the county.

The Library Champions honored during the luncheon at the Hoover Met were as follows:

* Birmingham District 7 Councilor Wardine Alexander (nominated by Powderly Library Branch Manager Loretta Bitten)

Alexander is a former Birmingham School Board President who spent nearly a year on the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees before being appointed to the Birmingham City Council's District 7. Immediately after taking office, Alexander made it known she wanted to contribute to Powderly Branch Library in her district. She used part of her discretionary funds to provide paint, chair rails, and blinds for the library's meeting room. Alexander also provided $5,000 to purchase equipment for Powderly Library. ln November 2019, Alexander won a public election to continue serving as District 7 Councilor.

 * Linda Chastain (nominated by Matina Johnson of the Hoover Public Library)

In 1980, Chastain set up a table outside a polling location, asking citizens about the need for a Hoover library and urged the newly elected mayor to build one. When Hoover Public Library opened three years later, Chastain was one of the first volunteers to collect books for the library. More than 35 years later, Chastain remains an active supporter of the Hoover Public Library. A co-founder of the Hoover Arts Alliance, Chastain is a big supporter of the library's mission to be the arts center for the Hoover community. She also assisted in establishing a Library Gallery at City Hall, helping extend cultural service beyond its four walls.
* Linda Coleman-Madison, Alabama State Senator for District 20 (nominated by Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams)

Coleman-Madison, Alabama State Senator of District 20 and ADA Compliance Administrator for the City of Birmingham, has been a passionate supporter of the Birmingham Public Library for years. In 2018 and 2019, Coleman-Madison contributed a combined $19,000 to five BPL loctions in her district - North Birmingham Regional Branch, Springville Road Regional Branch, Pratt City Branch, Ensley Branch, and Iinglenook Branch. Her contributions have helped all five libraries provide even more relevant programming specific to their communities.

 * Gary Gerlach (nominated by BPL Archives Department Head Jim Baggett on behalf of the Central Library)

Gerlach has volunteered in the BPL Archives Department downtown since 2001. Coming in three days a week, he works hundreds of hours annually. In a department that is always understaffed, Gerlach provides help processing collections, creating databases, and monitoring the department's environmental conditions. He helps pack and transport new collections, cleans the department, trains interns, and assists patrons with research questions. 

 * Charles Ghigna (nominated by Deborah Fout of the Homewood Public Library)

 A nationally known poet and author known as Father Goose, Charles Ghigna is a Homewood resident who has provided numerous free programs for the Homewood Public Library for years. He has done poetry readings, taught a session at an annual conference, and even starred in a float one year in the Homewood Christmas Parade. On December 14, the Homewood Public Library will feature Ghigna in a celebration of Alabama's 200th birthday.

An avid library user, Ghigna does much of his book research at the Homewood Public Library. He often debuts his books at the library, hosting programs that draw large crowds of all ages and generate positive publicity for the Homewood Public Library in publications and on social media.

 * Tamisha Parker (nominated by Allison Scanlan of the Pinson Public Library)

Parker was one of the main organizers who urged the creation of the Pinson Public Library and has served on its board of directors since it began in 2011, A recent retiree of Rudd Middle School, students told Parker they wanted Pinson to have its own public library and she helped them organize a campaign to build it. Since joining the library board, Parker has helped library staff form relationships with local schools. Parker is passionate about ESL education and helps the library reach out to Pinson's Latino population.  She is a strong advocate for the library in the community and city.

 * Joe Perez (nominated by April Moon on behalf of the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest)

A longtime supporter of Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, Perez through his ownership of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop has provided bird seed monthly for the numerous bird feeders located throughout the wooded property. His bird feed attracts a variety of birds and squirrels, giving patrons an up-close view of the beautiful creatures.

Perez gives to the library with little fanfare and no expectation of attention, showing up unannounced with a huge bag of bird seed over his shoulder. Besides supporting the library, Perez volunteeers with the Vestavia Chamber of Commerce and in Leadership Vestavia Hills.

 * Adrian Zebot of the Junior Women Committee of 100 (nominated by Lindsy Gardner of the Emmet O'Neal Public Library)

Zebot is president of the Junior Women's Committee of 100, a group of mothers dedicated to supporting the Children's Department of Emmet O'Neal Library. Since 1970, the JWC has championed library services and donated over $700,000 to support innovation in the Children's Department.

JWC's primary fundraising event is the Summer Reading Kickoff Carnival, a family-friendly event  in its 45th year that includes a fun run and  50 creative carnival games.   About 600 children attended this year and over 300 registered to participate in Summer Reading. Zebot and her fellow JWC members volunteer hundreds of hours supporting the Children's Department every year.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Seven Great New Books for Dog Lovers

By Lynn Hutchins, Central Library

What are your favorite dog books? Many classics probably come to mind such as Lassie Come-Home, The Call of the Wild, and Marley & Me. The list doesn’t have to stop there. Here are some recent releases recommended for dog lovers.

Bark of Night by David Rosenfelt (fiction) – A legal mystery with humor and dogs about Paterson lawyer Andy Carpenter who discovers that someone left a perfectly healthy French bulldog at the vet’s with instructions to put the dog down.

Biloxi: A Novel by Mary Miller (fiction) - A funny story about a down-on-his-luck guy, Louis, who can’t catch a break until he meets a very good dog named Layla.

Dog is Love by Clive D. L. Wynne (nonfiction) – A great read for anyone who has ever loved a dog and experienced the wonder of being loved back.

A Dog’s Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron (fiction) – The story of one endearing dog's journey home after she is separated from her beloved human.

Extraordinary Dogs by Liz Stavrinides and John Schlimm (nonfiction) – A beautiful photo book featuring the profiles of over 50 dogs responsible for heroic feats.

Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond by Alexandra Horowitz (nonfiction) – An entertaining examination and celebration of the human-canine relationship for the curious dog owner and science-lover alike.

Tomorrow: A Novel by Damian Dibben (fiction) – The story of a dog who must travel across centuries in search of the man who granted him immortality.

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