Thursday, December 28, 2006

BookMakers: Handmade Books from the University of Alabama's Book Arts Program

Sarah Bryant's book The IndexSarah Bryant's The Index

Students, graduates and faculty from the University of Alabama Book Arts Masters Program will present their work at an exhibition in Central's Fourth Floor Gallery at the Birmingham Public Library January 3-February 12. The exhibition will highlight the three labor-intensive stages of the bookmaking process—papermaking, printing, and book binding—with work by artists from the region who are affiliated with the University of Alabama’s graduate program.

The painstakingly crafted paper, prints, and books on display at the Birmingham Public Library will demonstrate a remarkable craft that—in a world of mass-produced white paper, speedy laser printers, and efficient printing presses—most of us are unaccustomed to seeing. Book artists begin papermaking by using a variety of natural fabrics and fibers: a second-hand linen dress found at a thrift store, bark from a tree native to Alabama, or an old pair of denim blue jeans. Flecks of color, unexpected textures, and imperfections around the edges make each piece a unique medium for language and art.

The fineness of the paper is enhanced when the artist carefully chooses words that are imprinted onto each homemade sheet with a printing press; the force of metal or wood type depresses ink into porous fiber. Many of the pieces in this exhibition feature the artists’ own writing or that of a cooperating author. Artists choose a typeface—better known as a font—to complement the subject matter, mood, and color of the piece and often include etched images to serve as a background or central illustration.

Finally, each single work is bound together to make a new work—a book—that is both practical and aesthetically exquisite. Bindings range from simple to remarkably intricate and demonstrate a variety of ancient and modern stitching techniques from around the world. Covers are made from paper, cloth, and leather and complement the work to be found inside.

This University of Alabama program teaches papermaking, printing, and book binding using historical techniques, emphasizing the art and craft of making books by hand with traditional materials and equipment. The works in this exhibition illustrate that traditional book artists draw on many creative abilities—writing, etching, sewing—to transform something as practical as a book into an elegant work of art.

Remembering Gerald R. Ford

President Ford announces his decision to pardon former President Richard Nixon. Photo courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library   Gerald R. Ford
July 14, 1913 - December 26, 2006

“. . . The ultimate test of leadership is not the polls you take, but the risks you take. In the short run, some risks prove overwhelming. Political courage can be self-defeating. But the greatest defeat of all would be to live without courage, for that would hardly be living at all.” Ford's Remarks upon receiving the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage AwardMay 21, 2001

To read about Gerald R. Ford, his presidency and funeral services see the links below:

Many books about Gerald R. Ford are available for check out at your local library.

Online links:
Biography of Gerald R. Ford
Encyclopedia Britannica Online articles (a library card is required to access these articles)
Gerald R. Ford Presidental Library and Museum
Send condolences online at the Gerald R. Ford Memorial Web site
Funeral services schedule
Presidential Proclamation Announcing the Death of Gerald R. Ford
A President's Legacy National Public Radio's (NPR) collection of audio news and related material about Ford's presidency and funeral.
The White House remembers Gerald R. Ford

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kwanzaa and New Year's Day resources

Happy New Year
Are you searching for the history of Kwanzaa, special recipes for New Year's Day, or holiday crafts? Let BPL's Kwanzaa and New Year's Day subject guides give you a helping hand.

Book review: Black Girl / White Girl

Book Cover
Joyce Carol Oates' novel Black Girl / White Girl "is a searing double portrait of 'black' and 'white', of race and civil rights in post-Vietnam America".

Book reviewer Arlene McKanic states "Joyce Carol Oates is masterful at depicting ugliness, and the list of what is ugly in her world seems endless: the smell of unwashed flesh with its grease and pimples, overflowing trash, ill-fitting clothes, dying canals gleaming with toxins, the indignity of the female body and its processes. Moreover, there's the ugliness of her characters' dark, unspeakable and sometimes murderous impulses. The Bryn Mawr-like campus in her latest novel, though pretty enough to an outsider, partakes of this general ugliness. As one might guess from the book's title, the perversity of American race relations is one of the themes of Black Girl / White Girl."

To read the rest of the review, click here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Archives Will Digitize Birmingham's Founding Documents with New Overhead Scanner

Birmingham Public Library
Press Release
December 19, 2006

Celebrating 30 years of service to the Birmingham community, the Birmingham Public Library’s Archives will embark on an ambitious project to make its extensive collection more accessible to teachers, students, researchers, and the general public. With a state-of-the-art overhead scanner—purchased with grants from the community—the Archives will scan Birmingham’s founding documents including the original survey for the city. The 133-year-old volume contains the original maps and field notes of the survey team that laid out Birmingham's streets in 1872. The Archives will also now be able to digitize atlases such as the Beers and Ellis Atlas of Birmingham—a rare 1887 atlas containing full color maps of downtown Birmingham; Baist's Property Atlas of Birmingham—a rare 1902 atlas of full-color maps of downtown Birmingham; and other historic maps and illustrations of early Birmingham.

“With this type of overhead scanner, the Archives can safely scan materials that are too fragile or too cumbersome for a standard scanner,” said Head Archivist Jim Baggett. He anticipates that a high-quality scanner will allow the Archives to digitize many one of a kind historic documents and make them available on the Internet.

The Archives will share the scanner with Oak Hill Cemetery, which holds an estimated 10,000 burials and associated interment records from the city’s founding to the present. The Cemetery, which is the burial place for many of the city’s founding families, will use the scanner to digitize interment records, providing the public with important information about Birmingham’s founders.

According to Library Director Barbara Sirmans, “this equipment will enable the Library to push forward with several of our key goals. It will provide adequate and appropriate technology for users to access the information they need. It will also greatly accelerate our effort to offer outstanding online content drawn from the Library’s own special collections.” Using current technology for the benefit of patrons is crucial to the Archives. The number of files Archives staff retrieve for researchers has gone up more than 60 percent in the last six years, and placing fragile items online is imperative for original documents to remain in-tact for generations to come.

The Birmingham Public Library Archives holds over 30,000,000 documents and over 400,000 photographs on subjects ranging from local to international significance. Subject areas of particular strength include local government, urban and economic development, industry and the labor movement, women's history, religious history, art, music, literature, sports, and the largest collection in existence relating to the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.

The collection is open to the public and draws researchers from the U.S. and around the world. In 2005 the Archives served nearly 2,000 local, national, and international researchers with a record 95,000 files. In 2004, the work of one researcher won an Academy Award, adding to works researched in the Archives that have earned an Emmy, a Peabody, and three Pulitzer Prizes.

The scanner purchase was made possible with very generous support from the Birmingham Public Library Foundation, Vulcan Materials Company, Glenn Ireland, William Ireland, Energen, David Herring and the Oak Hill Memorial Association, the Birmingham Historical Society and the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rosetta Stone language software available online

Rosetta Stone logoBirmingham Public Library and Jefferson County Library Cooperative are excited to announce our newest online resource, Rosetta Stone. Now any time of the day or night you can learn to speak, write and understand new languages using your natural language-learning abilities and fully-interactive technologies.

Take a tour or start learning a new language.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

WANTED: Yearbooks

Wanted yearbooks flyerBirmingham Public Library Seeks High School Yearbooks

The Birmingham Public Library is seeking donations of high school yearbooks from the Birmingham area. If you would like to donate annuals for the library's permanent collection, please call (205) 226-3728 or fill out our online form.

View the yearbooks already in the library's permanent collection

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Win tickets to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival

James and the Giant Peach PosterKids win 5 free tickets to Alabama Shakespeare Festival's production of James and the Giant Peach plus a family dinner and one night hotel stay. Children ages 4-13 have an opportunity to win a chance to see this wonderful show with 4 of their family members.

To Enter: Submit an essay of 200 words or less discussing your favorite James and the Giant Peach character or draw a picture of them. The deadline to submit is January 8. Turn all submissions in to one of our branch libraries. Parental or guardian signature is required to enter the contest. (Entry Form)

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BPL will be closed the following days:

Thursday, December 14 (inventory)
Saturday, December 23
Sunday, December 24
Monday, December 25
Tuesday, December 26
Sunday, December 31
Monday, January 1

Happy Holidays!

BPL in the News: Downloadables and Teachers' Pet

Teachers' Pet logo Downloadable audiobooks logoThe Birmingham News recently published two articles about BPL's downloadable audiobooks and the Web site Teachers' Pet. Teachers' Pet provides links to original history documents and photographs for classroom use.

"Libraries offer books for download"
"Library site helps teach history"

List of new downloadable audiobooks

The Enchanted Forest and More: Christmas in Downtown Birmingham

Loveman's Mr. Bingle

Birmingham author Tim Hollis reminiscences about visiting Santa, the Enchanted Forest and the holidays of his childhood in Downtown Birmingham during this Wednesday's Brown Bag Lunch program. The program takes place in Central's Arrington Auditorium at noon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Christmas Memory

Christmas Memory
Visit Central library Dec. 13 at noon to hear Birmingham storyteller and actress Dolores Hydock present “A Christmas Memory”. The event will be held in the Arrington Auditorium. Come early to get a seat at this popular event.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Remembering author Bebe Moore Campbell

Book jackets

Bebe Moore Campbell, best-selling author of several books, journalist and NPR commentator, died November 27 of brain cancer complications. Celebrate her life by reading one of her books, listening to her commentaries, or reading more about her life and career.

Additional links:
BookLetters Interview with Bebe Moore Campbell
Bebe Moore Campbell's official Web site
Official Press release (November 27, 2006)
Biography Resource Center (requires Birmingham residency and library card)
Wikipedia article

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ramblings of a maudlin mind

Thanksgiving table
Join Birmingham storyteller Lee Smith this Wednesday, November 29 at noon in Central's Arrington Auditorium. She will share stories of love, laughter, loss and secrets that are never discussed at the Thanksgiving table.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Making simple machines: introduction to robotics & engineering

Making simple machines Join Kwanzaa Year-round at Five Points West Regional Branch as we explore the wacky world of Rube Goldberg and construct our very own hiliarious machine using everyday objects. Learn basic concepts of engineering and robotics as we work together to build a machine to accomplish a simple task. Then, hit the road with us the following Saturday as we travel to see Alabama's Best Robotics Competition at Auburn University.

Workshop at Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Saturday, December 2, 2006
2:00 p.m.

Field Trip
Meet at Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Departing at 7:00 a.m. for Auburn University
BEST Robotics Competition

Appropriate for children of all ages. For additional information call (205) 223-0186 or (205) 226-0828

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Local Authors' Expo Dec.1-2

Local Authors' Expo Over 30 local authors will have their books for sale December 1-2 at the downtown library. Come to Central's first floor from 10 a.m-3 p.m., buy a book or two, and have the authors autograph your purchases. This expo is sponsored by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library.

Thanksgiving history, recipes, crafts and more

Happy ThanksgivingWith BPL's Thanksgiving resources guide, you can read about the history of the holiday, discover a new recipe, or find a clever craft for your children to create. Check it out and Happy Thanksgiving from all of the staff at your Birmingham Public Library.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Win tickets to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival

Win tickets to Disney's Beauty and the Beast Kids win 5 free tickets to Alabama Shakespeare Festival's production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast plus a family dinner and one night hotel stay. Children ages 4-13 have an opportunity to win a chance to see this wonderful show with 4 of their family members on Dec. 23.

To Enter: Submit an essay of 200 words or less discussing your favorite Disney's Beauty and the Beast character or draw a picture of them. The deadline to submit is Monday Dec. 4. Turn all submissions in to one of our branch libraries. Parental or guardian signature is required to enter the contest.

Good luck!

Tears of a Tiger Author Here Dec. 11-12

Sharon Draper

Sharon Draper, author of the Read It Forward book, Tears of a Tiger, will be visiting Birmingham Public Libraries and speaking about her book.

Monday, December 11
Five Points West Branch 10 a.m.
Woodlawn Branch 1 p.m.
Springville Road Branch 4 p.m.

Tuesday, December 12
North Birmingham Branch 10 a.m.
Smithfield Branch 1 p.m.
Southside Branch 4 p.m.
Central -Arrington Auditorium 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Author Lynne Berry to appear at several branches

Lynne Berry, author of Duck Skates and The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat will be present several storytimes and two interactive writing programs for children at the following branches:

Tuesday, November 28

Southside Branch Library - 9:30 a.m. Preschool storytime
Five Points West Branch Library - 11 a.m. Preschool storytime
Ensley Branch Library - 1 p.m. Preschool storytime
West End Branch Library - 3:30 p.m. An interactive writing program for children

Monday, December 4

Inglenook Branch Library - 9:30 a.m. Preschool storytime
Avondale Branch Library - 11 a.m. Preschool storytime
Wylam Branch Library - 3:30 p.m. An interactive writing program for children

Friday, November 10, 2006

Children's book week Nov. 13-19

In celebration of Children's Book Week, John McCutcheon will perform at several branches. Please come and join in the fun.

"Children's Book Week introduces young people to new authors and ideas in schools, libraries, homes and bookstores. Through Children's Book Week, the Children's Book Council encourages young people and their caregivers to discover the complexity of the world beyond their own experience through books. "

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Evening with Eric Essix

Eric Essix
Come and spend an evening with Eric Essix at the Central Library on November 16th at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free but you must have a ticket. For tickets call (205) 226-3610. There is a limit of four tickets per person.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Friends of the BPL: Annual Meeting

Friends of BPL
You are invited to the annual meeting of the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library to be held Thursday, November 9 in Central's Arrington Auditorium. Jackie Wuska with the Literacy Council of Central Alabama will discuss literacy in Birmingham. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting is at 6:00 p.m.

Join the Friends TODAY and come to the annual meeting!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Let's talk turkey at Avondale

Between November 6 and November 22 the Avondale staff wants to talk turkey with you. Visit the Youth Department for your turkey conversational starter and let the fun begin. Who knows, all this talking may win you and your family a frozen turkey and a Thanksgiving tale or two.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tuxedo Junction and the Rise of Birmingham's Jazz Community

Tuxedo Junction historical markerJoin us this Wednesday, November 1 at noon in Central's Arrington Auditorium to hear Birmingham historian Karen Utz discuss Glenn Miller, Ensley and the Big Band hit it inspired: "Tuxedo Junction".

Friday, October 27, 2006

Library to Show Birmingham News Civil Rights Photographs

BIRMINGHAM—Putting flesh on the bones of Birmingham’s civil rights history.

That’s how Marjorie White, Birmingham Historical Society director, describes the new exhibit of 41 never-before-seen photos from the archives of the Birmingham News. Each depicts the turbulent and emotional events sweeping our city during the 1950s and 60s.

The exhibit, entitled “Unseen. . . .Unforgotten/Civil Rights Photographs from The Birmingham News,” runs November 5-December 30 in the Library Gallery of the Birmingham Public Library. The Opening Reception is Sunday, November 5 from 3-5 p.m.

The photos, shot by News photographers yet never published, reveal gripping and telling moments such as:

  • A child bearing a sign reading “Can a Man Love God and Hate His Brother?”
  • Mayor Albert Boutwell following the news of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing
  • A youthful and determined Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth counseling Freedom Riders
  • A pensive, brooding Dr. Martin Luther King
  • Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor directing arrests of marchers
  • The arrest of high school student Mattie Howard, demonstrator in the Children’s Crusade
  • Calming the crowd after a house bombing

“These are extraordinary portraits of real people who lived this Movement,” says White of the collection drawn from the News archive of more than 5,000 unseen civil rights era images. “They are the people, the places, and the action—what you expect from good photo-journalism. Thousands of words fill history books, yet, in these photos, this is the story of the Birmingham Movement.”

A News photo intern named Alexander Cohn discovered the negatives filed by year and photographer during his summer employment with the paper. He digitized 2,000 of the images, and interviewed living photographers and Movement participants for background. A portion of those photos may be viewed online at

“Each photo in the Library exhibit is captioned, placing it in the context of its part of the story,” says White. “Seeing the exhibit shows you the power of the photographs—and you better understand the circumstances of what took place. “All these years later, the history is still painful,” she continues, “but as Reverend Shuttlesworth himself concluded, ‘Let it never be forgotten that the Birmingham Movement provided the vehicle and the shock force that shook the nation’s moral conscience.’” The events in Birmingham directly resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Bill, legislating equal rights for all Americans.’”

The exhibit is open to the public at no charge. For more information, contact Marjorie White, Birmingham Historical Society, One Sloss Quarters, Birmingham, AL 35222, 251-1880,

Friday, October 20, 2006

John McCutcheon appearing Nov. 13-15

John McCutcheon (photo by Parthy Monagan
John McCutcheon storyteller and folksinger, will perform at BPL Monday, November 13 through Wednesday, November 15 at the following branches:

Central 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Branch 6:30 p.m.

Five Points West Branch 10:00 a.m.
North Avondale Branch 1:00 p.m.
Avondale Branch 6:30 p.m.

North Birmingham Branch 10:00 a.m.
Smithfield Branch 1:00 p.m.
Pratt City Branch 3:30 p.m.

One of America's most respected and loved folksingers, John McCutcheon is an award-winning recording artist and storyteller. He is a master of a dozen different traditional instruments including the banjo, guitar, fiddle, mountain dulcimer, and jaw harp. His 26 recordings have garnered multiple awards, including five consecutive Grammy nominations.

Listen to some of McCutheon's songs such as "Dog's Life" and "Mud" at

This program is made possible, in part, by the Jefferson County Commission through the Jefferson County Community Arts Fund administered by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham.

photograph by Parthy Monagan

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Magic City Confidential

Old Jefferson County Jail 1930
This Wednesday (Oct. 25) at noon, join BPL Archivist Jim Baggett for a pre-Halloween virtual tour of some of our city's notorious historic sites. The virtual tour is part of Central's Brown Bag Program held in Central's Arrington Auditorium.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Library closed Thursday until 1 p.m.

All branches of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed Thursday October 19 until 1 p.m. for staff training.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Looking for a career?

Need career information, knowledge about different professions, or employability skills? Explore the Career Guidance Center.
The Career Guidance Center offers an all-encompassing online database on career information. With over 2,000 jobs and 23,000 resources, this database has all the information to help you choose, plan, and advance your career.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Classic monster movie marathon

This October 21st celebrate Halloween and the beginning of Teen Read Week in Central's Youth Department. Bring your friends and watch classic monster movies with us from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Popcorn, drinks and good frights will be provided. Call (205) 226-3655 for more information.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tony Leonard at North Birmingham's Poetry Night

Poetry Night with Tony LeonardTony Leonard, inspirational poet and author, will be at the North Birmingham Regional Branch October 17th at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and light refreshments will be served.

Leonard, who began writing poetry in the mid 1970s, has written some of the most heart warming and motivational poetry of our day. His numerous works include such titles as "Traces," "You Are," "When Mountains Cry," "Through the Eyes of God," "The Aftermath," and "The Rising Sun." In 2001, Tony was nominated for a Nobel Prize in literature for poetry."

Friday, October 06, 2006

New online database for African American studies

The Oxford African American Studies Center database provides information about the lives and events which shaped African American and African history and culture.

There are more than 7,500 articles by top scholars in the field. The core content includes:

a Africana which presents an account of the African and African American experience

a Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895 which documents the full range of the African American experience from the arrival of the black explorer, Esteban, who arrived with the Spanish in 1527, to the death of Frederick Douglass

a Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present, offers a treatment of African American history into the twenty-first century

a Black Women in America

a Africanican American National Biography

a Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature

a Over 1,000 images, primary sources with specially written commentaries

a Over 100 maps

a Over 100 charts and tables offer information on everything from demographics to government and politics to business and labor to education and the arts

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Alabama public libraries online survey

Alabama citizens are being asked to share their views on public libraries during an October online statewide survey. Their opinions will help shape the future of the state’s public libraries, said Alabama Public Library Service Director Rebecca Mitchell.

The online survey will be available through October 31. To access the survey online, visit and follow the directions.

Mitchell urged citizens to take the survey. “We need input from the public to evaluate current services and to ensure libraries remain a vital part of the community in the future,” she said. APLS will use the information to develop a five-year plan for the state’s public libraries for 2008-2012.

The library wish-list of some citizens was heard at eight meetings held in the summer at locations throughout Alabama. The survey will allow anyone who did not attend a meeting to be heard.

The 2002-2007 plan identified priorities for the state’s public libraries, including reading programs for children and young adults, services for the underserved and for people with special needs.

Great Stories CLUB

Great Stories Club Logo

Birmingham Public Library selected to host “Great Stories CLUB” book discussion program for teens.

The Birmingham Public Library in partnership with The Opportunity Academy at Riggins (T.O.A.R.), a Birmingham City School, has been selected to host a three-part reading and discussion series called the “Great Stories CLUB.” The library is one of over 180 libraries nationwide, and the only one in Alabama, selected to receive this grant from The American Library Association (ALA).

The Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens and Books) is a reading and discussion program designed to give teens a chance to read and discuss great books that are relevant to the challenges in their lives. The books and resources for the Great Stories CLUB have been provided by a grant from the American Library Association Public Programs Office and the Young Adult Library Service Association.

Each title selected for the program focuses on a character who struggles with a serious challenge. As a recipient of this grant The Birmingham Public Library will receive programming resources as well as copies of the following books for distribution to the students at T.O.A.R.

Born Blue by Han Nolan
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

The discussions will be facilitated by librarians and are scheduled for September, October, and November at the T.O.A.R. campus. For more information about the Great Stories CLUB hosted by the Birmingham Public Library, contact Janine Langston at 205-322-6371. For information about the Great Stories Club national initiative, visit

Friday, September 29, 2006

Free framed art available at Central

Art prints ready to be checked-outThe Arts/Literature/Sports Department has many framed art prints that can be checked out. The prints cover a wide variety of subjects and periods. These include reproductions of works by well-known artists, a variety of landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and photographs, as well as some children's art.

These art prints are a great way to enhance your home d├ęcor at no cost. The check out period is for 60 days and a maximum of two prints may be checked out per library card.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Banned Books Week

Catcher in the Rye . . . Harry Potter . . . Captain Underpants . . .
Every year, there are hundreds of attempts to remove books from schools and libraries. Celebrate YOUR freedom to read and right to choose your book during Banned Books Week, September 23rd to the 30th.

Censorship causes blindness eye chart
Banned Books Week "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met." (American Library Association)

10 most challenged books in 2005
100 most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000
American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression's banned and challenged book list
Google's explore banned books

Join the banned books virtual panel discussion this Monday at 9 a.m.
with frequently banned authors, Chris Crutcher and Sonya Sones, and American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Expert, Kent Oliver.

Vote for your favorite banned book

Birmingham obituary index online

Local Databases page
BPL's newest database, Obituary Index: Birmingham Area Newspapers, is now available online. The index includes the name of the deceased and the newspaper, page number and date of the published obituary. Obituaries from three Birmingham area newspapers are included (The Birmingham News, Birmingham World, and the Methodist Christian Advocate)

This is an ongoing project of the Government Documents Department and the years covered (as of 9/21/06) are December 1960 - December 1976. There are already almost 100,000 entries in the database.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Local real estate database at Central

The Business, Science & Technology Department at Central subscribes to the property information database RealQuest. With this database you can locate current Jefferson County real estate information such as the names of property owners, street addresses, parcel numbers, sales and financing data, property descriptions, maps, taxes, etc. So, if you find yourself in need of such information, drop by the Central Library and we will be happy to assist you.

Friday, September 15, 2006

BPL's new Web homepage launched today

BPL Web site design
BPL's new Web homepage design was lauched this morning with several new features. The new features include an online calendar of events, database spotlights, and a drop down menu with links to new books and DVDs, jobs at the library, FAQs, genealogy, and meeting rooms. Check it out and let us know what you think:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Credit Smart Workshop

House sold sign
Is trying to buy a home getting you down? Attend West End's Credit Smart Workshop tomorrow (September 14) at 5:30 p.m. to learn how to improve your credit rating in preparation for home ownership. The workshop will be taught by Sarita J Womack, Director of Housing for the Birmingham Urban League. Snacks will be provided. Call Denise Allen at (205) 226-4089 for additional information.

Friday, September 08, 2006

September 11 Project and Resources

September 11 project graphic BPL is joining over 430 libraries worldwide as a part of the September Project. Central and Pratt City libraries will feature window displays remembering the events of September 11, 2001. Avondale, East Lake, Eastwood, Inglenook, North Avondale, North Birmingham, Southside, Springville Road, and Titusville libraries will remember the day with book displays.

"The September Project is a grassroots effort to get people together on September 11th to talk about issues that matter. September Project events take place in libraries, where all people are welcomed, and where the exchange of information and ideas flourish. The September Project encourages individual communities — neighbors — to make sense of the world together."

For general information, photographs, first-person accounts, terrorism, and timelines concerning September 11, 2001 and beyond use the Web sites recommended by the Librarians' Internet Index . Books and videos are also available at BPL.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day
September 8 is International Literacy Day, established to celebrate literacy and put a focus on improving literacy throughout the world.

Approximately 860 million of the world’s adults, nearly two-thirds of whom are women, do not know how to read or write, according to the International Reading Association.

In Birmingham, AL, an estimated 38% of adults are functionally illiterate. This means they are unable to read and write well enough to fill out a job application.

The Birmingham Public Library partners with the Literacy Council to provide the community with adult literacy services. Adults interested in learning to read, improving their reading skills, and learning English as a second language may contact the Literacy Council at 205-326-1925 or 1-888-448-7323. Tutors and students are encouraged to meet in the public library in order to utilize the many services and resources available.

Facts about Illiteracy

  • The high school dropout rate in Alabama is 37%, 10 points higher than the national rate of 27%.
  • 75% of unemployed adults have reading or writing difficulties.
  • 60% of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have problems reading.
  • 13% of all 17-year-olds are functionally illiterate. Among minority youth the figure is 44%.
  • It is estimated that fifteen million adults holding jobs today are functionally illiterate.
  • Almost 1 million adults in Alabama are not high school graduates.
  • Youngsters whose parents are functionally illiterate are twice as likely as their peers to be functionally illiterate.
  • The estimated cost of illiteracy to business and the taxpayer is $20 billion per year.
  • Over half of Alabama’s prisoners never completed the eighth grade. Over 90% of Alabama’s prisoners do not have a high school education.
  • In Birmingham 24.5% of Birmingham's citizens age 25 and older did not graduate from high school (2000 Census).

To read more about literacy check out one of our books.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

USS Birmingham in World War II

USS Birmingham
Join Birmingham historian Jim Noles September 13 at noon in Central's Arrington Auditorium to learn about the ship called Birmingham. Known as one of the Second World War's unluckiest ships, the cruiser Birmingham fought gallantly in the Pacific while surviving a torpedo attack, a direct hit by a Japanese kamikaze plane in which 51 crew members were killed, and an explosion that took the lives of 237 men. "A Ship Called Birmingham: The USS Birmingham in World War II" program is a part of BPL's Brown Bag Lunch Series.

3rd Annual Great Garage Sale

Garage Sale
Mark your calendars for the 3rd Annual Great Garage Sale September 15th at the Central Library and come on down! We have something for everyone - baby gear, toys, kitchenware, decorative items, paintings, jewelry, electronics, gardening equipment, CDs, videos, music cassettes, stuffed animals, silent auction items and much more. Doors open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 4:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium. Popcorn, cookies and soft drinks will also be available for sale. All proceeds benefit our annual Staff Day.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hurricane Katrina one year later

August 29th, 2005 Hurrican Katrina struck land and changed the Gulf Coast forever. Read about the disaster and view a comprehensive list of librarian reviewed web sites at Librarians' Index to the Internet.

Catalog and Databases Offline August 30

The library catalog will be unavailable August 30 while we upgrade our system. The databases will also be unavailable for use outside the library.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jumpstart Read for the Record

Barbara Sirmans reading to children
BPL's librarians are participating in the national Jumpstart Read for the Record program today. The program hopes to bring the largest shared reading experience ever to the country by having librarians, educators, and parents read The Little Engine That Could to young children. BPL Director Barbara Sirmans, as well as other librarians and staff, read to Birmingham's children this morning.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Split Complement

View the work of Tom Barnes, Rob Cox and Uta-Marie Krapf in Central's 4th Floor Gallery. The artists' paintings will be on display until September 15. James R. Nelson, visual arts critic for The Birmingham News, reviewed the show at

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Reading Rally A Success

Reading Rally Banner
Thanks to everyone who came out to the Alabama State Fairgrounds and joined us for our annual Reading Rally. You made it a success and we hope to see you again next year! In case you weren't able to be there, look at some of the fun you missed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Central Library's Entrance Renovation

Construction will begin at the Birmingham Public Central Library on August 15th to replace the ramp and make the parking lot entrance ADA compliant.The project is expected to take several weeks.
The main entrance at the corner of Park Place and 21st street north and the entrance to the Linn-Henley building at Linn Park will be open as usual.
Check the library’s webpage for progress reports and photographs.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Public libraries offer help for homework
Public libraries offer help for homework
By Rebecca Mitchell

Sunday night, in any town in Alabama: "Mom, I have a three-page report on the planet Mars due at 8:15 in the morning!" Homework! Who dreads it more - children, parents or teachers?
Luckily, there is help for Alabama's students. Best of all, it's free.

Last year, Alabama became one of the first states in the nation to offer free online homework help for students grades four through college intro courses. Funded by a federal grant through the Alabama Public Library Service, allows a student to log onto the Internet and get a live online tutor to help with a homework problem in math, social studies, science and English. is available from 3 p.m. to midnight seven days a week. Any Alabama citizen can use the service by typing in an Alabama zip code, grade level and subject. Federal and state dollars will fund the service for fiscal year 2007. The homework service is staffed by trained tutors who have undergone a seven-year background check. Many of these tutors are retired teachers or graduate students and are here in the United States.
Students, don't get your hopes up -- tutors won't do the work for you. They guide you into understanding and solving the problem by demonstrating with a chalkboard or with instant messaging techniques.

Sessions are monitored and students supply feedback on their tutor. Waiting time for a tutor is usually less than five minutes. If you don't have a computer with Internet access at home, go to one of the more than 220 public libraries in the state. Almost all have free public access terminals where students can do their work.

(Note: There may be changes in fiscal 2007 for hours and authentication. These changes are still to be determined.)

Alabama students logged some 56,000 sessions on last year. Most were middle school students needing help with a math problem. The best part of is it levels the playing field. Kids in rural farming communities have the same access to help as kids in large urban areas. has proved so successful that other states are looking at copying our service. Kansas will debut its homework site in September.

Public libraries have even more free learning services. Your public library offers Learning Express Library (Learn-a-Test), a free practice test database that allows anyone to take any of 300 standardized tests, have them graded online and explained immediately. Tests offered include the GED, SAT, ACT, civil service exams, elementary reading and writing skills, and others. Tests vary in grade level and can be taken multiple times.

If tests unnerve you, consider starting here with complete privacy in taking your practice test. All you need is your library card number to begin your free account with the database. Tests can be taken at any computer with Internet access -- at your home, school, office or library. High school students can practice college entrance exams and those of any age can prepare for the GED by taking the practice test.

In 1999, Alabama was a national leader with its statewide virtual library service. Through the cooperative efforts of five state agencies -- Alabama Public Library Service, Alabama Commission on Higher Education, Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education, Alabama Department of Education and the Alabama Supercomputer Authority -- the Alabama Virtual Library was born.

This service continues to be a vital reference source for students. The Alabama Virtual Library card, free at your public library, allows you to access more than 90 databases that have magazine, journal and newspaper articles for research.

It's not just for the students -- there are encyclopedias, medical-related databases, even an auto repair reference center on the site. This free AVL card, available at any public library or public school library, has something for everyone in your home. You can access the AVL from any computer with Internet access with your AVL card number.

Today's public libraries are light years away from the hush-hush world overseen by a finger-pointing librarian of yesteryear. Since 1998, when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation chose Alabama to be the first state to receive a grant to provide public Internet access in libraries, we have not slowed down.

Yes, we still offer books to check out, but we also offer films, magazines, newspapers, downloadable audio books, summer reading programs, book clubs, computer classes, books on tape for physically and visually impaired patrons, as well as our live online homework help, Learning Express free standardized practice tests and the Alabama Virtual Library.

With the many services public libraries offer, we can tell you the Internet has not caused the demise of public libraries, as many feared. We are using the electronic world of the Internet as yet another means of providing information to you.

School will begin soon. Homework will be assigned. Just remember if you need a little extra help, the public library is there for you -- at no charge. Most online resources are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Come visit us and get your library card. We'll be looking for you.

Rebecca Mitchell is Alabama's state librarian.

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