Friday, February 15, 2019

Book Review: The Dinner List

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

The Dinner List
Rebecca Serle

As someone who is very indecisive, I have not been able to create a “dinner list”—you know, the ice-breaker question where you pick the five people you’d like to share a meal with? This simple premise has been turned into a beautiful story of a 30th birthday dinner for Sabrina, which, surprisingly, includes:
We begin to learn about unresolved issues between the players in the present through their dinner conversation, while also being taken back in time to the stories of love and friendship between these complex characters in the past. For me, what gave this book five stars was the turn that occurred halfway through the story, which flipped my expectations upside-down. The story that followed was more profound than I expected from this sweet book and made me love it all the more. This story of longing, grief, and redemption will stay with me for a long time.

"Introduction to Grant Writing" Workshop to be Held at Central Library February 21

What: Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series: Introduction to Grant Writing 
When: Thursday, February 21, 2019 
Time: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. 
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Building, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium 

The Birmingham Public Library is hosting a  Nonprofit Management Class Series through May 2019 in collaboration with the Harvard  Club of Birmingham. The second in the series of free monthly workshops, "Introduction to Grant Writing," will be held on Thursday, February 21,  12:00–1:00 p.m., in the Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th Floor, Arrington Auditorium. 

There are no more slots open for the grant writing seminar. BPL, however, will live stream the workshop for those unable to attend. You can watch live on BPL's Facebook page.  

The series instructor is John Whitman, PhD. A veteran of both the private and nonprofit sectors, Dr. Whitman has also taught leadership and management courses at American University, Babson College, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He recently served as a member of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's Transition Committee for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The nonprofit workshop series began in January 2019.  

Brief descriptions of the remaining classes: 

Thursday, February 21, 2019
Introduction to Grant Writing – Participants will be taught the basics of writing proposals for the purpose of securing grant funding from organizations such as philanthropic foundations and government agencies. Registration closed

Thursday, March 7, 2019
Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs – This class will introduce participants to the systematic collection of data that can be used to assess and evaluate programs. Register

Thursday April 4, 2019
Logic Models and Theory of Change – Participants will be introduced to basic conceptual models that can help them develop more complete and thorough justifications of the programs for which funding is being sought. Register

Thursday May 2, 2019
Tools for Social Change – Participants will be introduced to over 10 different approaches to help them, and their nonprofit organizations, achieve incremental and systemic social change. Register

The workshops are free of charge, but registration is required. For more information about the series and other nonprofit resources available at BPL, contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Spring Break and Summer Travel Plans? Apply For Your Passports at BPL

Rachel Howard (center) of the Central Library Circulation Department with
BPL's first passport customers

Planning to travel out of the United States during spring break or this summer? You can apply for your passports at five Birmingham Public Library locations: the Central Library downtown and four regional libraries—Avondale, Five Points WestNorth Birmingham, and Springville RoadRead more about BPL’s passport services here
BPL became an official Passport Acceptance Facility last September after several employees underwent months of Passport Acceptance Agent Training. The service is available by appointment only. For details on forms and documentation needed click here

You must supply your own photo except at the Central Library, where passport photos may be purchased for $15.  Please note that there are special requirements for minors under age 16, minors age 16 and 17, and no-fee passports when submitting Form DS-11.

Smithfield Library to Host Program Remembering the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing February 21

Refurbished Sixteenth Street Baptist Church as it looks today

On Thursday, February 21, at 3:30 p.m., the Smithfield Branch Library is hosting a program paying tribute to the four little girls who died during the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

When the Blast Occurred: Remembering the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing will feature Jim Baggett, head of Birmingham Public Library's Archives Department. In addition to discussing that incident that shocked the world during the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Baggett will discuss bombings of the Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville.

Jim Baggett at Avondale Library's Everyday Heroes summer
learning program teaching children about Birmingham civil
rights crusaders

Using FBI files and forensic evidence stored in BPL's archives, Baggett will recall the experiences of people who survived the blasts. The program is among 90 free Black History Month activities and events being held at BPL's 19 locations throughout February. For a list of Black History Month programs and other activities at BPL, visit our events calendar.

Board Games @ BPL

by Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library

Starting in November 2018, the Eastwood Branch Library has been collecting and circulating board games at its location. Libraries throughout the world collect and check out materials other than books, and board games are a logical addition. Why board games? Board games promote literacy and community. Children and adults are looking for greater connection to their families and community and board games offer an excellent way to connect face-to-face. Board games are fun, entertaining, and educational.

The board game collection at Eastwood Library is founded on several “gateway” games. These are games that help introduce non-gamers to popular and exciting board games. Games like Ticket To Ride, which is about train travel, is entertaining and helps introduce United States geography to players. Terraforming Mars has the players try to turn Mars into a habitable planet and introduces science and economic concepts. Some games are just fun, such as King of Tokyo, which is a dice game about mega-monsters fighting each other in Tokyo.

The board games at Eastwood Library can be checked out for one week at a time with an adult library card. Currently the games are for middle school to adults, although the collection will be expanding with children’s games.

Come to the Eastwood Library and check out our games!

Central Library's Diana Prince Begins Baby's First Storybook Program

Diana Prince

About Operation: Baby's First Storybook: Provides patrons who hold a baby shower at the Central Library with a gift bag containing a children's storybook, a thank-you note containing a few facts about the benefits of reading regularly to your child at an early age, a comment card, and a tissue pack with the BPL logo that reads "We Are Champions for Learning."

Diana Prince had a passion for reading as a child, even before she had two daughters of her own. Now Prince is helping spread the joy of reading to young mothers thanks to a new program she calls Operation: Baby's First Storybook.

Prince, an administrative clerk at the Central Library, in early January 2019 began Operation: Baby's First Storybook, a program that offers a free gift bag to patrons who book baby shower at the Central Library. In an interview, Prince talked about how Baby's First Storybook came about.

Williams: What inspired you to do this as a service for BPL patrons?
Prince: I want to encourage early literacy. It really saddens me that so many of our kids are reading below their grade level.

Why is reading to kids at a young age so important?
The younger you can get kids to read, the better. It creates an atmosphere that they will imitate. If they get behind in school by third or fourth grade, it's pretty hard to catch up. With my kids, I always made sure they knew how important reading is.

Why are you so passionate about reading?
Because I love learning and reading a good story. And because there are so many wonderful benefits that are a by-product of regular reading.

What are some of the benefits of reading, even in adulthood?

Strengthens the memory.
Improves writing skills.
Enhances your focus and concentration.
Improves analytical skills.
Expands your vocabulary.

In July 2018, the BPL Board of Trustees awarded you with an I Am BPL Award for your idea of a Readers Ball. What is that program?
The Readers Ball is about celebrating reading and those who love to read. It's a program where I would reward children who are excelling in reading and those who are improving. It's about showing children how important regular reading is and encouraging them to make reading a lifestyle.

Where do you go from here with Operation: Baby's First Storybook and Readers Ball?
I hope the Baby's First Storybook grows and reaches other branches, that way we can reach more babies. The public can help by spreading the word about the program. As for help with the Readers Ball, once I get it up and running, I would greatly appreciate their support in attending the ball and rooting our kids on.

Meet Diana Prince, founder of Operation: Baby's First Storybook program:
Hometown: Birmingham
Education: Parker High School and University of Phoenix (Bachelor's in Business Administration E-Business)
Family: Two daughters, Latrese and Kenyetta; four grandchildren.
Years at BPL: Eight and a half, including the past six and a half years as administrative clerk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Shuttlesworth, the Night He Lost All Fear

by Barbara Hutto, Government Documents Department, Central Library

Civil rights activist Fred Shuttlesworth was a man who realized how much hate some white groups had. These groups did not want equality but wanted to keep the invisible line of segregation and discrimination going even though constructional law said otherwise. As a man he feared for himself and his family.

All that change on December 25, 1956, when Ku Klux Klan bombs exploded at his home and Bethel Baptist Church. His home collapsed around and on top of him while he was in bed. He walked away, declaring it a miracle and a sign from God that he had divine protection. This gave him a passion that existed regardless of circumstances.

There were to be two more bombings of Bethel Baptist Church in 1958 and 1962, and multiple attempts on Reverend Shuttlesworth and his family’s lives. They were guarded around the clock by the by the Citizens Guard Police.

The Birmingham Institute of Civil Rights has so generously shared some of the actual artifacts from the Citizens Guard Police that protected Reverend Shuttlesworth's interests. These can be viewed in the third floor Linn-Henley Research Library display case.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar at Central Library February 19

What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: 3rd Tuesday of each month, January–June 2019
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

The Birmingham Public Library, in collaboration with SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, will be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business from January to June 2019. 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: February 19, March 19, April 16, May 21, June 18.

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.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Stream African American Movies and Documentaries on Kanopy

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Looking for something new to view? Did you know that the Kanopy platform is available free for Birmingham residents who have a Jefferson County library card, and offers hundreds of videos to stream online?

Kanopy is a video streaming platform for libraries with one of the largest collections in the world (5x Netflix)—over 30,000 films featuring over 1,000 producers including Criterion Collection, Media Education Foundation, Great Courses, Kino Lorber, etc. Kanopy's films are more typically "educative" in nature (documentaries, foreign language films, etc) and their motto is "thoughtful entertainment"—seeking to provide patrons access to films of social and cultural importance.

If you’re looking for something new and different, especially if you are interested in exploring diverse cultures, lands, or people, Kanopy is a great resource. Current offerings include two documentaries on different aspects of African American history:

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Sword discusses through interviews and newspaper archives the importance of newspapers owned and run by African Americans during the early part of the 20th century.

Goin’ To Chicago follows a group of Chicagoans on a reunion tour to their native South, and explains what happened in the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities.

To access Kanopy and other free streaming services, visit Birmingham Public Library's website at Documentaries and popular movies may be viewed by streaming, but cannot be downloaded. Take a few minutes today to check out the site and see what wonderful educational information is available!

Friday, February 08, 2019

Central Library Hosts An Emblem of Segregation: The 1926 Birmingham Zoning Map on February 12

Paul Boncella

Even before residential segregation was legal, leaders in the City of Birmingham used laws to keep blacks separate from whites. On Tuesday, February 12, at 6:00 p.m., in the Central Library Arrington Auditorium, Paul Boncella of BPL's Southern History Department will share details of this effort in a program called An Emblem of Segregation: The 1926 Birmingham Zoning Map.

During his discussion, Boncella will talk about how a scheme to segregate the population by race existed both in theory and practice long before the legislation that made it legal was passed in 1926. Boncella's program, among 90 Black History Month programs BPL is hosting in February, is free and open to the public.

Boncella said he came up with the idea for an in-depth examine of the 1926 Birmingham zoning map after seeing a need to educate the public about the history of racism in America.

"Explorations of the African American experience tend to focus on slavery and the mid-20th century quest for civil rights," Boncella said. "I believe that more attention needs to be given to what happened between those two eras. When my work as a map conservator put me into intimate contact with this fascinating relic, I could see that it had an important story to tell, and I set out to tell that story."

BPL's Southern History Department has one of only three known copies of the 1926 Birmingham zoning map. In his lecture, Boncella says he will show how even some experts may be surprised to learn of the existence of one these historic maps.

"The 1926 zoning map with separate residential districts for each race—the only map that was produced for that purpose—made people certain of where the racial lines were drawn in residential districts of the city and where they could and could not live," Boncella said. "This also made it possible for the residents of Birmingham to police the housing choices of other residents, which they often did."

Although Alabama is known for the racist Jim Crow laws that segregated public places, including schools, restaurants, and businesses, not many are aware of the 1926 Birmingham zoning map that dictated which neighborhoods were off limit to blacks. But Boncella said the practice was common  well before the maps were put in place.

"I need to point out that no maps existed in Birmingham before 1926 that established boundaries between the races in residential areas," Boncella said. "However people before that time already had a strong sense of such lines, as well as where such lines could have been drawn, as I will demonstrate in my lecture."

Boncella hopes his lecture will encourage racial tolerance in Birmingham and elsewhere.

"Understanding how the boundaries of racially segregated districts were established in the past will make us sensitive to the presence of such boundaries that may exist in the present," he said.

Central Library Hosts I Am Not My Hair Program February 13

As part of Black History Month, the Central Library is hosting a program for youth designed to build self-esteem and encourage black children to take pride in their hair. Called I Am Not My Hair, the free program will take place on Wednesday, February 13, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., in the Central Library Youth Department, 2nd Floor.

The program is the brainchild of Youth Department head Bessie Miller, after noticing that the kids, particularly young girls who come in after school, would gather in the bathroom "fixing their hair."

"We observed there would be occasional teasing about the style, the texture, etc., of their hair," said Gelenda Norman, a library assistant in the Youth Department. "Hair has an effect on the self esteem of children, tweens, and teens, even adults."

T.J. Dudley, owner of King's Grooming Lounge, will share his knowledge and expertise in hair care and grooming, along with teen mentor Aaliyah Taylor, to empower and uplift self-esteem and confidence among the young patrons.

"The inclusion of a barber will allow the young boys to get tips on hair grooming as well as entrepreneurship," Norman said. "T.J. will share his journey from simply cutting a fellow's hair to becoming a business owner, instructor, and motivational speaker."

For a listing of nearly 90 other Black History programs being offered at BPL's 19 locations, visit the seasonal events calendar

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