Friday, August 16, 2019

Central Library Youth Department Hosting Coffee with Cops: Teen Edition August 21

City of Birmingham police officers and Jefferson County sheriff's deputies put their lives on the line every day to protect citizens in our neighborhoods, schools, libraries, parks, and other places.

To show their appreciation for Birmingham's Men and Women in Blue, the Central Library Youth Department is hosting a new program called Coffee with Cops: Teen Edition. Police officers and deputies are invited to join our teens at the Central Library Youth Department's Create205 Learning Lab for free coffee on Wednesday, August 21, from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Another Coffee with Cops: Teen Edition will also be held at the Central Library on Wednesday, October 23, 3:30–4:30 p.m. For more information, call 205-226-3655 or visit

Smithfield Branch Library Debuts Monthly Teen Slime Lab; Job Hunting Class for Adults

Slime Lab is one of several new programs being offered at Smithfield Branch Library. 
With school back in session, the Smithfield Branch Library has several new programs to entertain Birmingham students who drop in after school  this fall.

The library also has several new workshops to help adult patrons looking for a job or needing help sprucing up their resume.

Here is a listing of programs being offered at Smithfield Library in August and beyond:

Job Hunting Class for Adults, August 19, 11:00 a.m.
On August 19 the Smithfield Branch Library is kicking off a new monthly class for patrons looking for jobs. The class will take place at 11:00 a.m. on the third Monday every month. Participants will use Google's platform to search and apply for jobs.

NBA 2K19 Basketball Tournament, August 23, 3:30 p.m.
Smithfield Library is hosting a fun event allowing young gaming enthusiasts to show off their NBK 2K19 skills. Free but advanced registration is required by August 22 at 6:00 p.m.

Waffle Day Monday, August 26, 3:30 p.m. 
This afterschool program is celebrating National Waffle Day, while also teaching teens some practical baking skills.

Pretzel Roller Coasters, Thursday, August 29, 3:30 p.m.
This STEAM program allows teens to build their own roller coaster out of pretzels or team up and build a roller coaster with a partner.

Resume Class, September 5, 4:00 p.m.
Every 1st Thursday of the month at 4:00 p.m, Smithfield Library staffers will provide one-on-one assistance for patrons in creating, editing, and reviewing their resumes.

Slime Lab, September 9, 3:30 p.m.
Every 2nd Wednesday of the month at 3:30 p.m., teens will make a new slime creation.

Tech Tuesday, September 10, 2:30 p.m.
Every 2nd Tuesday every month at 2:30 p.m., patrons will receive one-on-one assistance with their computer/tablet/phone or other device.

Job Hunting, September 16, 11:00 a.m.
Every 3rd Monday of the month at 11:00 a.m., this class will be using Google's job search platform to search and apply for jobs.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Beat the Heat at BPL

Beat the Heat at the Library

By Lynn Hutchins, Central Library

Where do you go when you need somewhere cool to visit? Why don’t you head over to your local library?

Here are seven cool ways to beat the heat at the library:

  • Find a quiet spot to read – All branches have newspapers, magazines, and plenty of books.
  • Use a computer – Browse the internet, learn a new skill, or conduct a job search. These are just a few ways to use the library’s computers.
  • Research your family history – You can use our genealogy databases for researching your family tree. Drop by our Southern History Department at the Central Library to ask a genealogy question and get help from our library staff.
  • Take a class or attend a lecture – The library has so many interesting and informative programs. Visit to find the right one for you.
  • Find a new hobby – Learn a new craft at the library. Make some art, relax, have some fun, or even play some games.
  • Check out books – Ask a library staff member to help you discover your next favorite book.
  • Watch a movie – Use the library’s free Wi-Fi to access movies on Hoopla or Kanopy and watch them on your computer or one of ours.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it in cool air-conditioned comfort!

Beat the Heat with These "Cool" Books

By Leigh Wilson, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

It may be 100 degrees outside, but you can check out and beat the heat
with these “cool” fiction books and many more at your library, whose settings take place in cold climates:

Deep Freeze, cold case criminal investigation by John Sandford, 2017
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, classic children’s book by C.S. Lewis, 1950
The Shining, horror novel by Stephen King, 1977

You can also enjoy the “dog days” of summer by checking out these fiction books and many more at your library that feature dogs:

Because of Winn-Dixie, children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, 2000
Bite Club, cozy mystery by Laurien Berenson, 2019
The Call of the Wild, 1903, and White Fang, 1906, classic adventure fiction by Jack London

Monday, August 12, 2019

Virtual Investing Made Easy

By Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

If you are like me, you are always seeking new avenues to make your money work for you. Traditionally, starting a savings account has been the tried-and-true way to save a few coins, but over the years there have been a number of online investment strategies developed to help you do just that. If you are feeling a bit unsure of where to start, there are a few online options to give you the nudge you need.

  • Acorns – Uses “roundups” to invest when you make purchases by using your debit card allowing access to one portfolio offering
  • Robinhood – Works like Acorns but allows for diverse portfolio options
  • Stash – Deals with individual stocks no diverse portfolios

Analyze your financial situation, do a bit of research and discover which investment strategies work best for you.

Check out these resources at your local library!

Investing 101: From Stocks and Bonds to ETFs and IPOs, an Essential Primer on Building a Profitable Portfolio by Michele Cagan, CPA
Investing for Beginners: Essentials to Start Investing Wisely
Investing for the Utterly Confused by Paul Petillo

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

BPL Local Author Lectures: Jim Baggett on Using BPL Archives to Research Books

When: Saturday, August 24, 10:00 a.m-12:00 p.m.
Where: Avondale Regional Branch Library 
About the lecture: Jim Baggett, BPL archivist, helps researchers and authors from across the globe do civil rights and other research for books using Birmingham Public Library's extensive archives collection. He will share tips on how BPL can help them in a talk titled “Getting in Their Heads: Using Archives to Understand Ordinary People in the Past”

Jim Baggett, BPL Archivist, with his 2019 Eminent Librarian Award from ALA

The Birmingham Public Library’s Local Author Lectures series concludes on Saturday, August 24, 10:00 a.m., at Avondale Library when BPL Archivist Jim Baggett speaks on the topic "Getting in Their Heads: Using Archives to Understand Ordinary People in the Past."

Baggett helps researchers and authors from across the globe do civil rights and other research for books and papers using BPL’s extensive archives collection. He will share tips on how BPL can help writers.

Baggett’s work as an archivist won him a statewide honor, the 2019 Eminent Librarian Award, from the Alabama Library Association earlier this year

BPL's 2019 Local Author Lectures began on June 8 with a presentation at Five Points West Regional Branch Library by Ruby Y. Davis, author of Hearsay. It continued July 20 at the Central Library with an inspirational message from Timothy Alexander, author of Ever Faithful, Every Loyal.

Citizen Services – How to Get Unstuck out of a Rut Seminar at Central Library September 7

What: Citizen Services – How to Get Unstuck out of a Rut seminar
When: Saturday, September 7, 11:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Regional Library Computer Center/4th floor
Details: Hosted by Sophia Hampton, educator and Magic City Toastmaster. Free but registration required.

Is your life filled with stress, worry, and anxiety? Are you tired of being sick and tired, feeling stuck with no way out? You’ve been down so long until getting up hasn’t crossed your mind. This seminar is sure to give you the boost that you need to get unstuck out of a rut.

By attending this seminar you will:

  • Become familiar with the signs of being in a rut and walk away feeling empowered and prepared to get unstuck.
  • Discover ways of how to get from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Develop insight into the crutches that are keeping you in the stuck position.
  • Learn fun ways to boost your self-esteem and self-confidence and reignite your passions.
  • Be inspired with out-of-the-box ideas to help you eliminate stagnation and to see things differently and promote more positive results.

If this sounds like the boost you need, then join us, and bring a friend or two. There will be door prizes and light refreshments will be served.

Visit the BPL events calendar to register. Limited space available.

Nonprofit Management Class Series – Assessment and Evaluation of Nonprofit Programs Class at Central Library September 3

Nonprofit organizations come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: they want to develop, fund, and implement creative programs that serve to fulfill their mission. Most people who work in the nonprofit world have the desire and commitment to make this happen, but they often lack access to learning resources that will help them understand how best to get there. If you feel like this applies to you, whether you are an experienced nonprofit leader or someone brand new to the field, then you will want to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series. The classes will be offered at the library’s Central Location from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the following months: July–October, December 2019. The classes are offered as part of a collaboration between BPL and the Harvard Club of Birmingham.

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.

What: Birmingham Public Library’s Nonprofit Management Class Series
When: First Tuesday of the following months: July-October, December 2019
Time: 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library, 4th floor, Arrington Auditorium
Details: Free but registration is required

Upcoming classes:

Tuesday September 3, 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

Tuesday October 1, 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

Tuesday December 3, 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. To register for each workshop, please go to the Birmingham Public Library’s events calendar. For more information about the series and other nonprofit resources available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Birmingham Public Library Exhibits Cartoons of Charles Brooks

What: The Less Things Change: Charles Brooks and the Art of Alabama Politics exhibit
When: August 20, 2019, through October 4, 2019
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Free and open to the public during library hours

For our next exhibit the Birmingham Public Library revisits the work of longtime Birmingham News political cartoonist Charles Brooks. The exhibit, The Less Things Change: Charles Brooks and the Art of Alabama Politics, looks at Brooks’ commentary on politics in his home state from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Visitors familiar with Alabama politics will experience a striking sense of déjà vu when looking at the span of Charles Brooks’ work. Cartoons that Brooks drew decades ago could run in an Alabama newspaper today and still be relevant. He was a strong advocate for a viable two-party system in the state, and frequently addressed issues such as the state’s unfair tax structure and poorly funded educational system. Brooks’ cartoons drawn in the late 1940s attacking the Ku Klux Klan led to threats against him and the Birmingham News. Following a number of Klan threats, the FBI kept Brooks under surveillance for a time, for his own protection.

Charles Brooks
Born in Andalusia, Alabama, Charles Brooks studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts with Chicago Daily News cartoonist Vaughn Shoemaker, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. After serving two years in the military during World War II, Brooks worked drawing gag cartoons for a Chicago advertising agency. In 1948 he returned to Alabama and was hired by the Birmingham News as the paper’s first editorial cartoonist. Brooks retired from the News in 1985 but continued to edit the annual Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, a collection of the work of political cartoonists from the United States and Canada. Brooks died in Birmingham in 2011.

In 1998 Charles Brooks donated nearly 4,000 of his original drawings to the Birmingham Public Library Archives. This exhibit features cartoons from that donation.

In addition to exhibits at the Birmingham Public Library, Brooks’ cartoons have been exhibited at the White House, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Smithsonian Institution.

For more information contact Jim Baggett, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203; 205-226-3631;

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Traveling Overseas This Fall? Start Your Passport Process at the Birmingham Public Library

Are you making plans to travel abroad this fall?

Start your passport process at the Birmingham Public Library. Staffers trained by the U.S. Department of State’s Passport Center are available at five BPL locations to assist you: the Central Library downtown and four regional libraries—Avondale, Five Points West, North Birmingham, and Springville Road. 

No appointments are necessary at the Central Library; passport appointments must be made in advance at the other four BPL locations - Avondale, Five Points West, North Birmingham, and Springville Road.

It is important to take steps to get a passport early because, on average, the U.S. Department of State says it takes six to eight weeks to receive your passport in the mail after completing an application. You can request expedited service for an additional fee.

Call 205-226-3601 for more information about BPL's passport services. In addition to accepting walk-ins, the Central Library also takes passport photos for a $15 extra fee.

Download and complete a passport application beforehand from the U.S. Department of State website. All applicants must appear in person (including minors). Minors under the age of 16 must appear with both parents.

To start your passport process, please bring the following to participating BPL locations:

  • Completed Passport Form DS-11
  • Evidence of U.S Citizenship, such as: U.S. Birth Certificate (original or certified copies only), Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship
  • Personal identification with a recent photo, such as: U.S. Driver’s License Expired Passport, Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship, Government Employee ID, U.S. Military or U.S Military Dependent ID
  • Photocopy of personal identification (front and back)
  • Passport photograph (2x2 color photograph) – remember you can get photos made at the Central Library on-site for $15
  • Payment as follows: $110 application fee, payable to the U.S. Department of State (check or money order) $35 execution fee, payable to the Birmingham Public Library (cash, check, or credit/debit) 

Click on this BPL link for details on forms and documentation needed 

If any questions about passports, the U.S. Department of State provides detailed guidelines for preparing passport applications and supporting documents.

Central Library Kicks Off the Football Season with Screening of The State Wins Documentary

By Jim Murray, Business, Science and Technology Department, Central Library

What: The State Wins Documentary Film Premiere
When: Saturday, August 24, 2019
Time: 1:00–2:30 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium/4th floor

Documentary filmmaker Sonya "Sam" Mitchell
Football season is right around the corner, and, in Alabama, that’s like having your birthday, Christmas, and the 4th of July all rolled into one. What’s that? You’re not familiar with the anticipation and excitement that grips all residents of the Heart of Dixie at this time of year? Well, that is just unacceptable. Not having an adequate understanding of the place football holds in the heritage of our state is certainly a dangerous symptom of cultural illiteracy and must be attended to immediately. Fortunately, a remedy is available in the form of the documentary film The State Wins, which is directed by local Birmingham filmmaker Sonya “Sam” Mitchell. The film will make its public premiere at the Birmingham Public Library’s Central location on Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 1:00 p.m.

Mixing old photographs, contemporary footage, and interviews, The State Wins tells the story of football in Alabama from the vantage point of two of the sport’s most celebrated games: the Iron Bowl and the Magic City Classic. These annual contests have been going on for decades and their outcomes have profound ramifications on the emotional state of Alabamians for 365 days a year. The Iron Bowl pits the teams from our flagship state universities, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers, while the Magic City Classic is the rivalry game between the largest of our historically black universities, Alabama A&M and Alabama State. For many years, the two games were linked by the venue in which they were played, Birmingham’s Legion Field. Alas, the Iron Bowl is no longer contested at “the Old Gray Lady,” as the stadium is affectionately known, but 2019 will mark the 73rd consecutive year that the Magic City Classic will be held at this Birmingham landmark. Memories and reminiscences of the great games and players abound in the film’s interviews, as tailgating fans of each school exude the passion and enthusiasm that help make football such a vital component of the culture our state.

For further information about the screening of The State Wins, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 205-226-3691.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Returns to The Grill at Iron City on September 6

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry
When: Friday, Sept. 6, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: Iron City Grill, 2208 6th Ave. South, Birmingham, Ala.
Details: Free to the public but you must be 21 or older to buy alcohol. Food and beer will be available for purchase from Iron City Grill.

Past Poetry Slam winner Jahman Hill performs.

If you missed Bards & Brews at Iron City Grill last week (August 2), the Birmingham Public Library's popular spoken-word poetry/craft beer program is headed back to the Southside eatery for the second straight month in September.

Mark your calendar for Friday, September 6, 2019, when Bards & Brews returns to Iron City Grill.

Registration for participating spoken word artists will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by poetry performances beginning at 9:00 p.m. with Voice Porter serving as host and emcee. Food and beer will be available for purchase inside Iron City Grill.

Bards & Brews received national attention in March 2019 when it was featured by traveling poet Anna Weaver of Charlotte, N.C.

Bards & Brews emcee/host Voice Porter.

Join us for an unforgettable night featuring many of metro Birmingham's best spoken word poets sharing their work in one of the city’s most popular nightspots.

For more information visit Bards & Brews on Facebook and the BPL events calendar. 

Bards & Brews is made possible by support from the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library.

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