Friday, February 27, 2009

Word Up! Winners 2009

word up winners 2009
Illyshia Parker, Erika Wade, Kendall Straley

Congratulations to Erika Wade from the Alabama School of Fine Arts for winning Word Up! 2009 with her poem "Sowei Girl's Womanhood." Wade was also the winner of last year's Word Up! contest.

Kendall Straley of Spain Park and Illyshia Parker of Woodlawn High placed 2nd and 3rd with poems inspired by Portrait of Lady Helen by John Singer Sargent.

Word Up! is a poetry contest sponsored by the public libraries of Jefferson County and the Birmingham Museum of Art. This year's contestants got inspiration from one of four works at the museum.

Don't miss your chance to see these three ladies perform at this year's Alabama Bound.

Thanks for Partying with Us!

mardi gras celebration
Central staff Elvis Aaron Murphy and Elizabeth Swift
serve cake to a lucky patron.

Thanks to our patrons and staff for making BPL's Mardi Gras party a success! We hosted over 20 interviews and handed out 25 pounds of beads and hundreds of BPL magnets and coasters. One hundred eighty-five Moon Pies and 225 pieces of cake were served as the sounds of jazz filled the Atrium. A good time was had by all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Children's Book Review: The Pencil (ages 4-8)

book coverOnce there was a pencil, a lonely little pencil, and nothing else. It lay there, which was nowhere in particular, for a long, long time. Then one day that little pencil made a move, shivered slightly, quivered somewhat...and began to draw.

Allan Ahlberg's The Pencil is one adorable book. A lonely pencil gets creative and starts drawing. But human nature is predictable, and eventually the people and even their pets start asking for more and more and more. They want to be named. They want to eat. They want to be drawn in color. They hate their names, their features, their clothing.

But how to make corrections? The clever little pencil draws an eraser with a mischievous grin that goes on an erasing rampage through town. It's up to the little pencil to figure out what else he could draw that could wipe out such a devastating threat to his colorful little world and allow his creations to live happily ever after. Too cute!

This is my first time reading an Allan Ahlberg book. Seems that he and his late wife, Janet, collaborated on many wonderful children's books, including The Jolly Postman that went on to sell over 6 million copies. Janet won a Kate Greenaway Medal for illustrating their Each Peach Pear Plum.

I'm off to hunt down The Runaway Dinner and Previously, two other collaborations by Ahlberg and the illustrator Bruce Ingman.

Watch Allan Ahlberg as he humorously explains to children the inequitable job duties of a married writer and illustrator:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Evening with Thom Gossom Jr.

thom gossom jr.
Enjoy readings and conversation with Thom Gossom Jr., whose career spans television, stage, screen, and now the printed page.

Thom Gossom is an actor, writer, and communications professional. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Gossom received his Bachelor of Arts in communication from Auburn University, where he was the second black football player and perhaps the first black athlete to walk on and earn a scholarship in the Southeastern Conference. He later went on to earn a Master of Arts in communication from the University of Montevallo.

After a brief time in the NFL and in public relations for Bellsouth, Gossom started his own public relations firm in 1987 to supplement his writing and acting ventures. Gossom is a self-described working actor, having appeared on stage, television, and film. His theatre roles include Fences, American Buffalo, and Glengarry Glen Ross. Film credits include Fight Club, Miss Evers' Boys, and The Chamber. On television he had recurring roles on In the Heat of the Night, Boston Legal, and Close to Home, and played the title character, Israel, in an Emmy-winning episode of NYPD Blue titled “Lost Israel.”

His writing credits include his critically acclaimed one-man show, Speak of Me As I Am, and his recently published memoir, Walk-On: My Reluctant Journey to Integration. He has also written articles and columns for The Birmingham News, The Birmingham Times, and Fun and Stuff and Down Home magazines.

Event Information
What: An Evening with Thom Gossom, Jr.
When: Thursday, March 12
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Auditorium
Cost: $10 per person (advance reservations required)

Light refreshments will be served.

This is an event of Writing Today Writers' Conference, March 13-14, on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College. Register online or call 205-226-4921 to receive printed registration materials.

Writing Today is supported by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Brown Bag Program ~ Darkness Into Life: Art

mitzi j. levin painting
Liberation by Mitzi J. Levin

Join us for the photography exhibit Darkness into Life: Alabama Holocaust Survivors Through Photography and Art. Artist Mitzi J. Levin will share her experiences in developing art for the exhibit, from interviewing survivors to the final creation. Wednesday, March 4, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Staff Pick: Hard Candy (DVD 2005)

dvd coverEllen Page, who is so adorable as the knocked up Juno, is slightly less adorable in Hard Candy. Oh, she starts out that way, innocently playing tag with an older man in a chat room, looking as sweet as the chocolate on her bottom lip after she bites into a pastry, but once she has the upper hand in the hook up, she does a scary 180.

Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) is a 32-year-old successful photographer. He meets 14-year-old Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) online and arranges a meeting at a coffee shop. The flirting that started online continues when they meet, as Lensman319 wipes the chocolate off Thonggrrrrl14’s mouth and licks his finger. He buys her a T-shirt and she suggestively models it for him in the hallway of the coffee shop, and the tension is palpable as the predator toys with his prey.

At his comfortable home in the hills, Jeff is still playing it legal, reminding Hayley that she's underage, and while not plying her with alcohol, he's not exactly stopping her either. But soon it is Jeff who is feeling dizzy and out of control. He wakes to find himself tied to a chair and a sober and angry Hayley waiting for him to focus so she can begin an afternoon of psychological torture on a man she knows partook in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a local missing teen named Donna.

What happens to Lensman319 in the following hours is enough to make me feel sorry for a pedophile for the first time in my life. Hayley is not only angry and vengeful, but it becomes obvious she is quite unhinged. This is never so obvious as when she starts talking about performing some "preventive maintenance" on Jeff so he won’t have to deal with those pesky urges for underage girls ever again. The way she sees it, she's only doing him a favor. And although she has never carried out this particular medical procedure, she has her dad's medical book in her bookbag, just in case. (I think of this scene every time I flip the switch on my garbage disposal.)

Is Hard Candy a plausible movie? Could a petite, young girl overpower an older, fit man and break his will so totally that he sees only one desperate way out of his predicament? I don't think it matters. A critic is quoted on the DVD case as saying this movie is “Fatal Attraction for a new generation.” In other words, like that 1987 movie that had married men scared to so much as glance at another woman, this is a cautionary tale that reminds us all that every cause has an effect, every action a reaction, and every illegal rendezvous an innocent victim.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Gras Celebration in the Central Library's Atrium!!!

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday and the Birmingham Public Library will be celebrating this special day in fine fashion from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in BPL Central's Atrium.

We'll have Mardi Gras music, cake, beads, as well as books, CDs, and DVDs for you to check out.

You will have the option to tell one of the library's L2 Krewe members what the library means to you, as we will be hosting informal interviews.

I'm told that even Elvis will be in the building.

In these difficult economic times, the Birmingham Public Library wants to remind you that we serve as a free institution for all people and that no matter what, we will continue to provide the highest quality of library service.

So, to paraphrase old Marie Antoinette, let us eat cake in the Central Library's Atrium from 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.!

Here's an example of some music you may hear if you come marching in (with the rest of the saints, that is):

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Songbird Rhymes & Reasons for Every Season

Join us at the Five Points West Library as Mr. J.D. Jackson and Mr. Sam Robinson perform, "Songs that make your heart, soul and mind soar high."

Concert Information
What: Songbird Rhymes and Reasons for Every Season
When: Monday, February 23
Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Where: Five Points West Public Library, Auditorium

Friday, February 20, 2009

Judge U.W. Clemon Looks Back

Judge U.W. Clemon recently visited Birmingham Public Library to reflect about his time on the bench and the events that led up to him being appointed the first African-American federal judge in Alabama.

In this excerpt, Judge Clemon looks back at his efforts to desegregate Pizitz department store in downtown Birmingham and the Birmingham Public Library.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In the News: Author Terry Pratchett Knighted by Queen Elizabeth

terry pratchettTerry Pratchett, the "master of humorous fantasy," was knighted on Wednesday for his contribution to literature.

Pratchett is beloved for his Discworld novels that poke fun at other fantasy/scifi writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, and Larry Niven. This popular series has sold 55 million copies and has been translated into 33 languages since the first one was published in 1983.

Like most popular and prolific writers, Pratchett loved reading at an early age, and cites The Wind in the Willows as his favorite childhood book. He wrote his first novel, The Carpet People, at 17.

Although not written for children, Pratchett is pleased that his books are popular with them. He knows how important it is to get children to read because "civilization depends on it."

Sadly, the 60-year-old Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in November 2008, and the writing of his Discworld series has been affected by it. Alzheimer's is a progressive, incurable disease that affects memory and word recall.

Biographical information is from the JCLC database Biography Resource Center (requires a JCLC card and residence in Birmingham, AL; remote access available)

Photo courtesy of AP

Brown Bag Program ~ Civil Rights Pioneers Stamp

civil rights pioneers commemorative stampJoin us for the annual United States Post Office stamp unveiling that will feature Civil Rights Pioneers. The program will include an array of various speakers. Wednesday, February 25, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

BPL@Night @ Avondale Presents Roger Day's Sing Loud, Jump High, and Dream Big

roger day
Photo courtesy of Loyd Artists

Join two-time Parent's Choice Award winner, Roger Day, for an evening of family musical fun. His music encompasses joyful children's songs that exercise both mind and muscle, body and brain featuring old school rock and roll to new school rap.

Concert Information
What: Roger Day's Sing Loud, Jump High, and Dream Big
When: Tuesday, February 24
Time: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Avondale Public Library, Children's Department

Light refreshments will be served. Contact Carla Perkins for more information at 226-4004 or

See Also:
Roger Day's Web site

BPL thanks Compass Bank for its generous support of BPL@Night. BPL@Night is also made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Roszetta Johnson performs @ BPL

Inducted into both the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in the early 1980s, Roszetta Johnson has led a successful recording and performing career.

Fans from around the world have enjoyed her music, from Vancouver to South Africa to Japan. Join us at the Five Points West Regional Library as this talented singer performs various musical selections.

Event Information
Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Place: Five Points West Regional Library
Cost: Free

Click here to listen to a sample of a Roszetta Johnson recording.

Tax Forms and Resources

As a service to the community, the Birmingham Public Library provides copies of current Federal and Alabama tax forms, instructions, and publications. Basic forms are available at most library locations; a more extensive collection of forms is available in the Government Documents Department in the Linn-Henley Building.

FREE Tax Preparation at Avondale, East Lake and Smithfield Libraries

Tax forms and instructions may also be downloaded from the Internet.

Federal Forms
IRS forms and publications

State Forms
Alabama Department of Revenue
Federal and State Tax Forms A list of state and federal tax forms available on the Internet. Maintained by the librarians at Louisiana State University.

Birmingham Forms
City of Birmingham

General Resources
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) This governmental site has United States federal income tax forms, information, and tips. Includes warnings about tax frauds and scams, information about filling online, and the ability to track the status of your refund.

Yahoo! Finance: Tax Center Tax forms, estimators, calculators, preparation, guides, tips, terms, calendars, rates, rules, news, and state tax profiles. Includes a basic "Beginner's Guide" for those new to preparing U.S. taxes.

Nolo Law Centers Encyclopedia: Taxes and Audits Includes tips on dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, filing returns, audits, appeals, tax bills, and tax crimes.

Free File Home: Your Link to Free Online Filing This IRS site is about Free File, an "online tax preparation and electronic filing through a partnership agreement between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, LLC. In other words, you can e-file... free." This site explains eligibility requirements for this free service, steps to get started, and a list of related FAQs.

Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers Information about the Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program, which "offer free tax help if you qualify. ... In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, many sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing)."

FREE Tax Preparation at Avondale, East Lake and Smithfield Libraries

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

BPL Awarded the "We The People" Bookshelf Grant

We the People Image
The Birmingham Public Library received the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) We the People Bookshelf award. The grant award provides collections that promote the theme of “Created Equal,” a theme inspired by the 2009 bicentennial year of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. This special NEH grant will also support public programs in Birmingham’s communities. The collections will be available for checkout at all 20 Birmingham Public libraries.

The NEH collaborated with the American Library Association (ALA) in awarding free copies of classic books to 3,000 public and school libraries throughout the United States. Each library received the 17 classic books on the theme of “Created Equal” from the We the People Bookshelf, along with 4 titles also offered in Spanish translation.

The We the People Bookshelf is a program that encourages young people to read classic books and explore themes in American history, culture, and ideas. The bookshelf includes a collection of books ranging from preschool to the 12th grade. These books will be featured in special library displays during February 2009. In addition, the libraries will host We the People-themed storytimes.

As a bonus, each library received a We the People Bookshelf set along with a “History in a Box" resource kit on Abraham Lincoln. This kit, developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, contains a resource book (print and CD formats), DVD, interactive CD-ROM featuring primary source documents, photographs, artwork, maps, songs, and other teaching resources.

We the People Bookshelf Collection
"Created Equal" Collection
This year’s “Created Equal” theme includes the following titles, selected by the NEH, in cooperation with the ALA and the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of ALA:

Kindergarten to Grade 3
  • The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
  • Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Grades 4 to 6
  • Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Give Me Liberty! The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Russell Freedman
  • Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman
  • Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton
  • Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
Grades 7 to 8
  • Saturnalia by Paul Fleishman
  • Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman
  • Abraham Lincoln the Writer: A Treasury of His Greatest Speeches and Letters edited by Harold Holzer
  • Breaking Through by Francisco Jiménez
Grades 9 to 12
  • Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober
  • That All People May Be One People, Send Rain to Wash the Face of the Earth by Nez Perce Chief Joseph
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography by William Lee Miller
  • Amistad: A Novel by David Pesci
Spanish Versions
  • Pink y Say by Patricia Polacco (translated by Alejandra Lopez Varela)
  • Lyddie by Katherine Paterson (translated by Rosa Benavides)
  • Senderos Fronterizos: Breaking Through (Spanish Edition by Francisco Jiménez)
  • Flores Para Algernon by Daniel Keyes (translated by Paz Barroso)
  • "History in a Box" kit on Abraham Lincoln

Brown Bag Program ~ Of Stories and Poets

african american storyteller
Join us for a wonderful time of poetry reading, featuring LaQuita Singleton, author of Nappy Minded Ideology, and storyteller and poet Evelyn Dilworth-Williams, author of Panola: My Kinfolks’ Land and Polishing the Apples Children’s Poetry. Wednesday, February 18, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Book Review: Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out (Age 10 - Adult)

Would you like to take a peek inside the White House? Have you ever wondered what takes place behind those walls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Well, I've recently discovered an inspiring and beautifully illustrated book that takes you back in history, so that you can learn about the people who built this building, those who lived in it, and discover some interesting facts that perhaps you did not know. Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out was created by 108 renowned authors and illustrators and the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. The book is introduced by historian David McCullough.

The collection includes essays, poems, short stories, letters, speeches, comics and illustrations. Some of the writings are inspirational, some are humorous, and some are filled with energy and excitement. You will discover that most of the White House inhabitants, including presidents and first ladies, share with us many of the same joys and concerns that we all experience. One example given is a letter written by Mary Todd Lincoln expressing her extreme grief after the death of her eleven year-old son, Willie:

"When Willie died of the fever,

Abraham spoke the words

that I could not:

"My boy is gone.

He is actually gone."


The word was poison,

but poison that would not kill,

only gag me with its bitterness

as I choked on a prayer for my death."

As you read this mother's words, I'm sure that you can sense the extreme anguish that she expressed after the death of her son. We can only imagine the sorrow that must have filled her heart with every word she wrote. So much of the author's pain is revealed in her writing and selection of words.

The book also contains some interesting facts that you might not know about the White House. Did you know that during the early days , there was a kitchen garden which featured a variety of vegetables and herbs including root crops, cabbages, peas, squash, onions, lettuce, cucumbers and radishes? You will discover the unsettling fact that President Harry S. Truman was once awakened at four o'clock in the morning to the eerie sound of a ghost knocking on his door and footsteps pacing the hallway floor. You will learn about a cow that once grazed the White House lawn.

The anthology contains some beautiful prose about "The White House by Moonlight" by Walt Whitman. Whitman writes: "To-night took a long look at the President's house. The white portico- the palace-like, tall, round columns, spotless as snow-the walls also- the tender and soft moonlight, flooding the pale marble, and making peculiar faint languishing shades, not
shadows . . "

You will learn some interesting facts:

The White House was set ablaze in August 1814, during the War of 1812. The building suffered extensive damage.

The walls of the White House are filled with five hundred spectacular paintings of famous and less well-known individuals. There are five portraits of American Indians courtesy of President James Monroe.

The First Presidential Children to live in the White House were Lincoln's younger sons, eight-year-old Tad and eleven-year-old Willie.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote more than thirty-five books on a broad range of subjects including politics, biography, natural history, literary criticism and philosophy. He also found time to write more than 150,000 letters.

The leg of President Harry S. Truman's Steinway piano came crashing through the floor of the second-story study. The entire building was in need of restoration. From 1948 to 1952, the Trumans could not live in the White House.

I've taken a tour through American history by reading this spectacular collection of literature. Sit down with a young person today and share in our nation's history. You'll be surprised at some of the unusual and fun facts you will learn.

To find out more information, please visit the companion website:

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

Brown Bag Program ~ Reading Meaning in African Textiles

african textile
Join us as Emily Hanna, Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas, shares insights into the exhibit Fabric of Life—African Textiles and Quilts from the American South. The exhibit is currently showing at the Birmingham Museum of Art through March 1, 2009. Wednesday, February 11, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Book Review: Contagious

book coverScott Sigler’s Infected is such a demented joyride, I was doubtful that he could pull off an equally entertaining sequel. Why did I bother to doubt him? Sigler’s got a cult following for a reason: He delivers. Contagious not only meets my expectations but exceeds them in a book filled with insidious aliens, bursting hosts, and a persistent crew scrambling to stop an airborne invasion.

The same players are back for more punishment in Contagious: CIA veteran Dew Phillips; his boss, CIA director Murray Longworth; epidemiologist Margaret Montoya; and my new favorite literary character: the refrigerator-sized ex-linebacker "Scary" Perry Dawsey.

It is six weeks later and the team finds itself in the unenviable position of having to stop an even more virulent strain of the virus—a virus that is correcting the mistakes made during the first invasion of earth. Where the initial strain infected hosts with triangles that hatched from bodies, the new strain pairs the triangles with crawlers that go for the brain. Guiding the invasion is the Orbital, a satellite that releases the seeds, programs them, and communicates with the hosts.

To make matters worse, a new president has just been elected. John Gutierrez has to hit the ground running after being briefed by Murray Longworth, making decisions he never thought he would have to make as POTUS. Will he logically subscribe to the adage that the needs of the many outweight the needs of the few?

In Infected Perry Dawsey took center stage in the first invasion because he had the guts to rid himself of triangles by knife, fork, and fire; in Contagious it’s a sweet-as-pie 7-year-old named Chelsea calling the shots as she communicates with “god”—the Orbital. As she gathers her army around her in Detroit, the infected and non-infected alike may face nuclear annihilation.

Pandemic, the conclusion to the Infected series, will be published in the next few years.

the deranged scott siglerScott Sigler has an awesome Web site filled with his trademark wit and wisdom on subjects ranging from Alf to Vikings, and populated with enthusiastic Sigler "junkies." He offers free podcasts of his books, all parts read by Sigler. Between writing novels, podcasting, and managing his Web site, Sigler writes the weekly horror column Laughing in the Face of Death over at

Currently I'm listening to Nocturnal on my iPod. It's a trip listening to Sigler segue seamlessly into Pookie the non-PC Chinese detective, a neglectful foster mother, a female police chief, a black homeless man, a fortune teller afflicted with Tourette's, Russian and Italian gangsters, a family of monsters, and a cast of many more.

The following books by Sigler are available through Interlibrary Loan: Ancestor, Earthcore.

Photo courtesy of Podcasting News

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Have you heard about the MonoMouse? Well, the device is an easy to use magnifier that allows people with poor vision to read text easily. The MonoMouse simply plugs into the back of your television, and any text that is placed under the mouse is enlarged on the screen. You can now easily read books, newspapers, magazines, even prescription bottles.

Central Library now has two of the devices. The MonoMouse can be checked out for three weeks and renewed once if there are no holds. The MonoMouse can be sent to branch libraries for hold requests.

These devices are on trial for three months so let us know what you think.

If you would like more information or would like to try the MonoMouse, just ask a librarian or call (205) 226-3600.

Take a look at the Bierley Electronic Magnifiers website to find out more about this easy to use device.

Friday, February 06, 2009

1,2,3 Play With Me Registration

1,2,3 Play With Me is an organized time for children (birth through age 3) and their parents/caregivers to play and learn together. Running for four weeks, 1,2,3 Play with Me is a 1 hour and 15 minute program featuring toys, art experiences, books, and play.

Please contact one of our Family Place Libraries™ listed below for registration or more information.

Avondale Regional Library
February 11–March 11
10:30-11:45 a.m.

Five Points West Library
February 11–March 11
10:30-11:45 a.m.

Springville Road Library
April 2–April 30
10:30–11:45 a.m.

North Birmingham Library
April 8–May 6
10:30-11:45 a.m.

Family Place Libraries™ are funded in part by a Project Development Grant from the Junior League of Birmingham.

Meet Brave Teen Who Helped Desegregation

Book JacketClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
by Phillip Hoose

Come and meet Phillip Hoose and Claudette Colvin at the Five Points West Branch to hear them discuss the true story of a brave teen who helped set the stage for desegregation.

Claudette had no traditional social advantages (i.e money, family connections, higher education). Yet as a teen she stood up for what she believed in, and made a difference. Her courageous actions proved that young people can affect change, no matter how the odds seemed stacked against them.

Event Information
Event: Author Phillip Hoose and Civil Rights Activist Claudette Colvin
Place: Five Points West Library
Date: Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Time: 4:00 p.m.

Mayor Langford's 2009 State of the City Address

Our friends over at BhamWiki have transcribed Mayor Larry Langford's 2009 State of the City address and made it available online. Read the address in its entirety here.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Connecting Families

Connecting Families is a service provided by selected libraries across Alabama to enable military service families to make free video “telephone” calls to their loved ones who are overseas. Using computers with attached webcams, these families will be able to see each other, some for the first time in months.

This service is available at five Birmingham Public Library locations: Central in the Arts, Music, and Sports Department , and at the four regional libraries--Five Points West , Avondale, North Birmingham , and Springville Road.

Using webcams and Skype , military service families can contact a member of the military either overseas or in the U.S. that are registered with Skype. Skype registration is free.

Connecting Families Click here to learn more.

New Teen Blog

New Teen Blog
Teens stay up to date on new books and CD’s, cool websites, what's happening at the Library, book clubs, author appearances, and more! Click right here to check out the new teen blog.

How the Library Can Help You Find a Job

Classified ad
There’s no denying it; times are tough right now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate for December ‘08 was 7.2%. Our national unemployment rate hasn’t been that high since January of 1993. In times like these, we look for ways to save money, and in some cases, look for jobs.

I’m guessing that you already know about saving money by visiting the library for free DVDs, youth and adult programs, and of course, books. But did you know that you can also find help searching for a job at the library?

Libraries are able to provide help for every step of this process from searching for jobs, to writing resumes and filling out applications. We can even help you ace the interview. You can visit any Birmingham Public Library for these services, but many can be accessed from the convenience of your own home.

If you’re at home, start at our homepage: Click on subject guides on the top right of the screen. On the next screen, under Business, Government & Law you’ll find Job Searching. On the next screen, you’ll find employment websites for the city, state and the nation.

The process of finding a job has changed greatly since 1993. And one of the major differences is how employers communicate with perspective employees. Email is an absolute necessity. Most employers will initially insist on communicating via email. Fortunately, there are many reliable, free email providers out on the web. Yahoo, hotmail and gmail are just a few. If email is new to you, don’t worry. Your local librarian has free handouts that will make this little step easy.

A big piece of your communication with a perspective employer will come in the form of a resume. Even if you’re new to the job hunt, a resume needn’t be intimidating. We have links on our page for several helpful resume sites. My favorite is the resume builder available on MicroSoft Word. You choose a template from a variety of resume types, and then type in your information. The result is attractive and professional.

Of course, for most people the most intimidating aspect of the job search is the dreadful interview, but it needn’t be a heart-attack inducing moment. Scroll to the top of the Job Searching page, click on databases. On the next screen choose Career Guidance Center. The Career Guidance Center from Facts on File has nearly 300 videos on every career subject imaginable including interviews.

If you find all this overwhelming, or don’t own a computer, come to a library near you, and a staff member will gladly show you all the sites and programs mentioned in this blog. And you local library will, of course, have books on all these topics as well.

photo by Richard Miles

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Gee's Bend Quilter Visits BPL

gees bend quilt
Gee's Bend quilter and author, Tinnie Pettway, will speak at three Birmingham Public libraries Wednesday, February 4:

North Birmingham Library
10:00-11:00 a.m.
Book signing and light refreshments to follow program.

Central Library
12:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Brown Bag Lunch Program
Book signing to follow program.

Five Points West Library
4:00-5:00 p.m.
Book signing to follow program.

Word Up!! Spoken Word Contest

word up 2008 winner
Erika Wade, first place winner of the Word Up! 2008 contest,
and Word Up! organizer Haruyo Miyagawa

High school students (grades 9-12) will celebrate their voices through a spoken word contest sponsored by the public libraries of Jefferson County and the Birmingham Museum of Art. The students will write and perform an original work inspired by a work of art at the museum. The participants in WORD UP! will be the top winners from each school’s contest.

This is the second annual contest for the event. The prize for first place is $150, $100 for second place, and $75 for third place. For more information, please visit the Web site at You may also call 226-3670.

Contest Information
Event: WORD UP! Spoken Word Contest
Place: The Birmingham Museum of Art, Steiner Auditorium
Date: Sunday, February 22, 2009
Time: 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Need An Answer?

African-American History Month begins today.

This is the perfect time to visit our online databases for rock-solid information exploring African American history and culture.

The online resources listed below offer primary source documents, photographs, video, maps, chart and tables, and much more!

African American Experience

African American Studies Center

African-American History Online

If you have a casual interest, need to help a child with a school report, or want to do scholarly research about African American history and culture, our databases are the place to start.

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