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.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hey Mom, My Report is Due Tomorrow!

Need some help with those last minute reports that your child neglected to tell you about? Join us at Cental's Brown Bag Lunch Program this Wednesday for a visit to the 24/7 library that is always at your fingertips. Click here for more information.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Reading Rally to be held August 12

Reading Rally
Join us at the Alabama State Fairgrounds Bill Harris Arena Saturday, August 12 from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. for our annual Reading Rally. There will be balloons, magic, games, prize walks, airbrush tattoos, arts & crafts and frozen treats. For more information call (205) 226-3655. See you there!

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