Showing posts from September, 2012

Card holders get discount for Southern Women's Show

The Southern Women's Show will be in Birmingham on Thursday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 7, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC). Tickets at the door will be $10, however library card holders can get a $3 discount if they buy their tickets online. To get started, go to use the promotional code BPLWBI12.
The event will be packed with information on food, health and beauty. There will also be fashion shows and celebrity guests. Teresa Giudice of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” will speak on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m.
Get ready to be inspired, feel refreshed, and just relax. You deserve it. For a complete schedule, go to Then, look in the left column and click on “events schedule.”

Chanda Temple
Public Relations Department
Central Library

How Children Succeed Author Visits BPL October 2

What makes a successful child? Good SAT scores? High grades? Optimism? Perseverance?

New York education journalist Paul Tough digs deep to find the answers.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 12:30 p.m., he will share his research and thoughts during a free lecture in the Arrington Auditorium of the downtown Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place.

In his latest book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character, Tough argues that there's more to success than a high IQ. He suggests that discipline, an adventurous spirit and determination are just as important, if not more important, than performing well on standardized tests.

Tough argues for a different understanding of the idea of character. He contends that parents, schools, coaches, teachers and the community have a responsibility to help children develop their character strengths as well as their math skills. He tells …

Kim Conwell-Butler To Lead October 2 Gifts of a Wordsmith Workshop

Dreaming about getting your poetry into print? On Tuesday, October 2, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Kim Conwell-Butler from Rocky Heights Print and Bindingwill lead a workshop on "the myths and truths about self-publishing” followed by a question and answer session.

The Birmingham Public Library is partnering with the non-profit creative writing organization, Real Life Poets, to offer free adult poetry workshops, Gifts of a Wordsmith, the first Tuesday of the month from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Story Castle on the second floor of the Central Library.

The classes will cover topics such as how to get your thoughts down on paper, overcoming writer's block, copyright issues, self-publishing, how to perform, and more. The Friends of the Birmingham Public Library will fund the workshops.

For more information on the adult poetry class, contact John Paul Taylor at or 205-585-8271. The Real Life Poets website is The BPL contact is Haruyo Miy…

Book Review: Alas, Babylon

Alas, Babylon Pat Frank
If you grew up during the Cold War Era, chances are you remember practicing the “duck and cover” method - crawling under your desk at school and covering your head - to protect yourself from a nuclear blast. Although that may sound ridiculous to us enlightened twenty-first century folk, this era of human history was a time of very real fear - fear of being overrun by Communism and of sudden annihilation by nuclear war. In fact, it was this fear that drove many novelists to document their anxieties through post-apocalyptic scenarios. Alas, Babylon is one of the many modern classics to emerge from this period.
The story is this: Mark Bragg, older brother to the novel’s main protagonist, Randy, is with SAC intelligence in the US military. With tensions rising between the US and Russia, Randy has agreed to take in his brother’s wife and kids, who live on a military base in Omaha, Nebraska, should things escalate to a full-scale nuclear war. The private code phrase agr…

Banned Books Week Activities @ the Birmingham Public Library

Banned Books Week 2012
September 30-October 6
 The 30th Anniversary

When I was a freshman in high school, I was required by my teacher to furnish written permission from my parents in order to write a term paper on J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. If not the very first, it was an early lesson for me on the concept of censorship. Thankfully I had no problem finding a copy of the book and literary criticisms on it at the Birmingham Public Library. I learned right away that it had been challenged many times by concerned citizens that wanted it removed from schools and libraries. About ten years later it was cited as being the most challenged book ever. Ironically as the years passed it was reported to be the second most taught book in American schools. In 2005 Time magazine listed it among the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It now appears on many school reading lists. Many young readers are attracted to the young, rebellious and troubled protagonist, Holden…

Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals Social

The Birmingham Public Library held its first Young Professionals social on Thursday, September 20. Prospective board members—young professionals ages 25-40 from throughout the Birmingham region—attended and enjoyed food by Mix Bakery and Café, drinks from Neighborhood Hops & Vine, and music by local jazz duo Collin Zuckerman and Tommy Bowen. But the evening had another purpose, which was to launch the library’s newest initiative: a young professionals board that will advocate for the library system, sponsor social events and fundraisers to benefit the library’s programs, and generate further interest in the library by active, talented young people from throughout the metro area.

BPL will continue to accept applications for the BPLYP board until September 30. Visit to fill out an application or nominate someone you know. Applicants will be notified about their application status by October 15.

Kelsey Bates
Southern History Department
Central Library

Gifts of a Wordsmith October Workshop

UPDATE:  Kim Con-Well Butler To Lead October 2 Gifts of a Wordsmith Workshop

Award-winning poet and community activist John Paul Taylor will lead free adult poetry workshops the first Tuesday of the month through November 2012 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Central Library. Gifts of a Wordsmith will take place on the library's second floor in the Story Castle.

The class will cover how to get your thoughts down on paper, overcoming writer's block, copyright issues, self-publishing, how to perform, and more at the Central Library. The Friends of the Birmingham Public Library will fund the workshops.

Taylor is one of the founders of Real Life Poets, a nonprofit creative writing program based in Birmingham. This summer he presented two workshops as part of BPL's adult summer reading program. Participants enjoyed the adult classes so much that they wanted to see them continue.

"We offered it this summer and the people wanted it back. That's why I wanted to do it,''…

Society of Alabama Archivists Create Marvin Yeomans Whiting Award

Dr. Marvin Whiting, BPL Archivist, 1975-1996
Shortly after coming to the Birmingham Public Library as our first Archivist in 1975, Marvin Whiting was walking down the street one day when he spotted a trash can in an alley with a large roll of maps or architectural drawings sticking out. As he was bent over with his head in the trash can, digging for more documents, he felt a tap on his shoulder. When he stood up a curious Birmingham Police Officer asked what he was doing.

“Oh, it’s alright,” Marvin said. “I’m the archivist.”

“You’re the what?” the officer replied.

By the time Marvin retired in 1996, there were few people in Birmingham who did not know what an archivist was and that Marvin Whiting was “the archivist.”

Born in Fort Valley Georgia in 1934, Marvin Whiting became the third generation of his family to attend Emory University. He earned a B.A. in literature, a B.D. in divinity, and an M.A. in librarianship from Emory as well as a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. I…

Book Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances

The Book of Lost Fragrances M.J. Rose

Ever caught a whiff of a scent that reminds you of a person or place you haven’t visited in years? The premise of Rose’s novel, The Book of Lost Fragrances, is this: what if there was a perfume that made you remember your past lives? The answer is a lot more complicated than you might think.
The L’Etoile family runs a perfume business in Paris, France that has been around for centuries. When a few shards of ancient pottery - brought home to France generations earlier - are rediscovered by the family’s modern descendants, research reveals that the clay pieces may be a powerful memory tool. The shards, it turns out, are pieces of a shattered perfume bottle recovered from an Egyptian tomb, and although the perfume itself has long evaporated, the scent remains impregnated in the clay.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government, intent on destroying the Dalai Lama’s political power, hears about the L’Etoile discovery. Fearing that this memory tool will …

Elections Resource Page Has Presidential, State, and Local Election Information

Unless you have been hibernating in a cave, you probably know that we are in the middle of the 2012 Presidential Election. The Presidential nominations for the Democratic and Republican parties are incumbent President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Are you wondering who should get your vote on November 6, 2012?

The Social Sciences Department has put together a Subject Resource page to help you make an informed decision. Keep in mind that the general election is not only about the presidential election but also state and local elections. This subject page provides information about the presidential, state, and local elections, how to register to vote, where to show up on election day, resources on the issues that matter to you, where the candidates stand on those issues, and poll information leading up to the 2012 Election.

Remember the last day to register to vote is October 26.

Social Sciences Department
Central Library

Children's Book Review: Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem

Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem
Rosalyn Schanzer

This is a nonfiction, multiple award-winning account of the "disaster" in Salem, Massachusetts, in the 1600s. No new ground is opened, but the text explains the events and consequences in a clear, nuanced account. The author doesn't spend any time blaming the girls or the religion of the participants, but she does not spare her disdain of the judicial system that allowed this "disaster."

Lynn Carpenter
Five Points West Library

The Emancipation Proclamation Turns 150

Most of us are aware of the Emancipation Proclamation that was issued on January 1, 1863, but probably fewer realize that a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862. Although it has nowhere near the stirring rhetorical qualities that we have come to associate with Lincoln’s writing, the preliminary proclamation nevertheless had an enormous substantive impact on the both course of the Civil War and future of American society. By declaring that all slaves held in the rebellious states would be free, Lincoln made the abolition of slavery a central concern of the United States government.

The preliminary proclamation was actually issued as a military order, specifically General Orders No. 139. Lincoln chose to do this so that his policy could be enacted swiftly without having to wait for the consent of Congress. Furthermore, the timing of document’s release was dictated by military matters as well. Lincoln had actually draft…

Watercolor Society of Alabama to Host 2012 Alabama Members’ Showcase at the Central Library

Whirling Dervishes by Diane Shepherd
The Watercolor Society of Alabama Members' Showcase will be open through October 26 in the gallery on the fourth floor of the Central Library, 2100 Park Place. The free exhibit features 61 entries. It is open during regular library hours. An awards opening reception will be held on Sunday, September 23, from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. at the Central Library, 4th floor Board Room. Several pieces are for sale. If you are interested in buying one, call 205-423-0922 or 256-238-2172.

 Read more about the showcase at Birmingham365.

Dave Holland to Perform at Eleven BPL Locations, September 24-26

Join Dave Holland, founder and primary performer of Beatin’ Path Rhythm Events, as he drums up some exciting stories. With stories chosen from places like Ghana, India, and Ireland, young audiences are introduced to new cultures, languages, and life lessons, all woven together through drumming, song, and creative interaction. It promises to be an event you won’t soon forget!

Event: Drumming Up Stories
Performer: Dave Holland
Target audience: Mixed ages
Cost: Free
Registration: Not required

Monday, September 24
Central Library - 10:30 a.m.
Inglenook Library - 3:30 p.m.
Five Points West Library- 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 25
Powderly Library- 10:30 a.m.
Titusville Library - 3:45 p.m.
Avondale Library - 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 26
Springville Road Library - 10:00 a.m.
North Avondale Library - 1:30 p.m.
North Birmingham Library - 4:00 p.m. (Due to North Birmingham Library being closed for renovation, this performance will take place at the North Birmingham Recreation Center,…

Help Smithfield Library Win $5,000 in National Contest

Smithfield Library is in the running to win $5,000 in the "Read! Build! Play!" project, sponsored by LEGO and DUPLO. If Smithfield wins, the money will be used to upgrade its children's department. Please go to and vote for Smithfield. The deadline to vote is October 1.

Voting is easy. Click on Alabama for the state, Birmingham for the city, and Smithfield Branch for the branch.

You will see other Birmingham libraries on the website. But all Birmingham branches are supporting Smithfield. When you visit the contest website, be sure to just vote for Smithfield.

Library assistant Reba Williams discovered the contest just a few weeks ago and decided to enter. She saw the contest as a way to help the library and the community. The money will help buy needed materials for the department. The branch started out in last place at No. 200 in the contest. But with the community's help, the library is inching toward the top, Williams said. People can vote …

Safety Tips for Using Public Computers

There are always some risks involved when using a computer in a public setting, be it a library or a free WI-FI hot spot. However, there are some things you can do to help keep your personal information private.

Don’t save your logon information.Make sure that when you are done with your session, youLOG OUTof any website. It isn’t enough to close your Internet browser or application. There are many programs, especially browsers and networking sites, that keep you logged in or have automatic features that save your username and password.Do not leave your computer unattended, especially with sensitive information available for others to see. If you must leave your seat, make sure you log out of all programs and close all windows.Do not save your username and password on the computer. When you are surfing through the Web, make sure features that remember your passwords are turned off. You can do so in the settings or tools of your browser.Make sure to always delete your browsing history. …

BPL Exhibit Travels to Montgomery

Earlier this month the exhibit Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th-Century Newspapers opened at Old Alabama Town in Montgomery and will be on display there until October 20. Created by the staff of the Birmingham Public Library Archives, Alabama Illustrated exhibits 40 engraved images of Alabama—rural scenes, steamboats, the streets of Mobile and Montgomery, Civil War battles, and Birmingham blast furnaces. The images were originally published in the 1800s in national illustrated newspapers like Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (both from New York), Ballou’s Pictorial and Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion (both from Boston), and The Illustrated London News (a British publication).

In the 19th century many Americans received news and learned about the world beyond their own home towns by reading illustrated newspapers. Prior to the 1890s, the technology did not exist to economically publish photographs in newspapers, so many publishers employed ar…

Birmingham Bound Author Talk and Book Signing Featuring Edward J. Blume Tonight at 6:30 at Central Library

Birmingham Bound
Author Talk and Book Signing Hosted by the Birmingham Public Library Archives
The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America
Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey

Join nationally known religious scholar Edward J. Blum as he discusses his new book The Color of Christ. How is it that in America the image of Jesus Christ has been used both to justify the atrocities of white supremacy and to inspire the righteousness of civil rights crusades? In The Color of Christ, Blum and Harvey weave a tapestry of American dreams and visions—from witch hunts to web pages, Harlem to Hollywood, slave cabins to South Park, Mormon revelations to Indian reservations—to show how Americans remade the Son of God visually time and again into a sacred symbol of their greatest aspirations, deepest terrors, and mightiest strivings for racial power and justice. The Color of Christ uncovers how, in a country founded by Puritans who destroyed depictions of Jesus, Americans came to believe …

Arrrrr! Talk Like a Pirate Day September 19th!

Ahoy, mateys! Wednesday September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day! For more information on sounding like an ol' sea dog and claiming yer pirate booty, check the Official Site:
Talk Like a Pirate Day Official Site

And here's some more good news for you, me hearties! Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is participating in Talk Like a Pirate Day with free doughnut giveaways! Talk about finding treasure---if you go into a participating Krispy Kreme and talk like a pirate, you get a free doughnut! If you go in full pirate costume, you get a free dozen!

Krispy Kreme Doughnut Giveaway

So rig up in pirate gear, perch a parrot on yer shoulder, and run the Jolly Roger up the flagpole---and if you need more information on pirates, set sail for yer local library! See you there, buccaneers all!

Yo ho ho and a bottle o'coffee with yer doughnut,

Mary Anne (the Black Avenger of BPL)

Spending Time with a Friend, the Inexpensive Way

I had a serious attack of “conscience” last week. I thought about a friend that I hadn’t spoken to in a few months and decided to call and invite them to lunch this Friday. I’m glad she could make time for me. This incident got me to thinking about inexpensive ways to spend time with friends. After all, friendships are important and need to be given time and care in order to survive and grow.

Movie Marathon Day at Home: One of my best friends loves to do Movie Marathons. First, choose what you want to eat. One time we bought a box of fried chicken and made salad and sides at home, another time, we had brats with peppers and onions. The Movie Marathon starts at noon and ends at 8 or 9 in the evening (you’ll need food for lunch and dinner).

Next, choose the movies you want to watch. I always like trilogies. You could check out the Bourne trilogy, Star Wars (original or prequel trilogies), the Matrix trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or you could have a Tyler Perry marathon, etc. …

A Primer for the Proper Lady, Circa 1967

Charm and Modeling Course
Bee Talford

This little gem immediately captured my attention and offers up a fascinating look at the rules of etiquette and fashion for Birmingham women circa 1967. While the title, Charm and Modeling Course, implies that this book was intended for women working or hoping to work as models, the advice is clearly meant for women of all ages and backgrounds. All I can think is, “Wow. Things are much easier now.” In-depth coverage is given to such topics as gloves, their color and various lengths, and when to wear each. For instance, white gloves are to be worn only after 5:00 p.m. from September-December, but are OK any time of day during the rest of the year (by the way, one should never use a slang term such as OK). Other topics covered are posture, shoes, bags, and much more. Helpful charts are included to remove the guess work when it comes to coordinating one’s clothes, shoes, gloves, jewelry, and lipstick with one’s hair color.

The author, Bee Talfo…

If You Can't Come to the Library, the Library Will Come to You

Are you unable to get to a library? If you are, how about checking out Books-By-Mail. Did you know that we will send books throughout Jefferson County? If you don’t have a library card, or even if you do, that's okay. Books-By-Mail has its own library card. You may receive four items per mailing period and keep them for four weeks instead of the usual three. It’s all free and the books will come through the mail to your doorstep. So, if you’ve stopped reading because you were unable to get to the library, let us assist you. Call us today at 925-6176 and get started reading today!
Loretta Bitten
Powderly Library

Birmingham Bound Presents The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America By Edward Blum, September 18

Birmingham Bound
Author Talk and Book Signing Hosted by the Birmingham Public Library Archives
The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America
Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey

Join nationally known religious scholar Edward J. Blum as he discusses his new book The Color of Christ. How is it that in America the image of Jesus Christ has been used both to justify the atrocities of white supremacy and to inspire the righteousness of civil rights crusades? In The Color of Christ, Blum and Harvey weave a tapestry of American dreams and visions—from witch hunts to web pages, Harlem to Hollywood, slave cabins to South Park, Mormon revelations to Indian reservations—to show how Americans remade the Son of God visually time and again into a sacred symbol of their greatest aspirations, deepest terrors, and mightiest strivings for racial power and justice. The Color of Christ uncovers how, in a country founded by Puritans who destroyed depictions of Jesus, Americans came to believe …

Civil Rights Foot Soldiers to Join Panel Discussion at Brown Bag Lunch's Barber of Birmingham Screening, September 12

Several Birmingham civil rights foot soldiers will participate in a panel discussion on Wednesday, September 12, at the Central Library as part of the 12 p.m. showing of The Barber of Birmingham.

The Oscar-nominated documentary will be shown for free in the Arrington Auditorium as part of the library's Brown Bag Lunch Program. The film features Birmingham barber James Armstrong and what he did to fight for equality in Alabama. In 1963, Armstrong won his fight to integrate Birmingham's Graymont Elementary School. His two sons would become the school's first black students.

Wednesday's screening will be the first of 14 screenings that will be shown at various Birmingham branches, September 12-October 22. This event is a collaboration with POV (Point of View), the award-winning independent nonfiction film series on PBS. The film was produced by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday.

Wednesday's panel discussion will include:


Invitation to the Social for Young Professionals: September 20, 6-8 pm

If you're 25-40 and would like to be considered for the board of the new BPL young professionals, you're invited to our Social!

Details:What: BPL YP Social
When: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 6 - 8 p.m.
Where: Fourth Floor of the downtown Birmingham Public Library (2100 Park Place, 35203)
Ambiance: Jazz at dusk in Downtown Bham
Refreshments: Drinks and hors d’oeuvres from MIX Bakery and Cafe
Attire: Business casual
RSVP by September 17 to Jennifer Neely at or 205-226-3619

BPL is accepting board applications until September 30 for young professionals ages 25-40 who live in the Birmingham metro area and are interested in being part of a literary-oriented group. The inaugural BPLYP Board will determine the direction of the group, plan social events, and launch an annual signature fundraising event—all for the benefit of BPL.

The BPLYP will be a diverse group of people from various backgrounds and professions who love the Library and the creative and thoughtful l…

Hurricane Katrina Novels

The seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall on the Gulf Coast was August 29th. This disaster had such an impact on the lives of people in this country that it inspired many novels on the subject.Authors have woven the anticipation, impact, and aftermath of the storm into a variety of stories.As our thoughts go out to those who are still recovering from Hurricane Isaac, see how these disasters inspire novelists to create something beautifulout of something that destroys.  The annotations are publisher descriptions.

Down in the Flood  by Kenneth Abel
Danny Chaisson's latest case is bid-rigging.But as his investigation proceeds, a gathering storm named Katrina blasts his world apart.Surrounded by death and destruction of New Orleans, the city he loves, Danny searches for one man who'd trusted Danny to guard his identity when he agreed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating corruption in the city's construction industry.But someone has leaked the ident…

Last Week to Visit Both Sides of the Lens Exhibition

Members of the Shackelford family on their front porch steps, Covin, Alabama.

Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1910-1935) will be in the Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery of the Central Library through Friday, September 14. The exhibition features 40 photographs from this collection of early 20th century glass plate negatives.

The photographs—rich for their visual record of everyday life in rural Alabama—are also remarkable because of the story behind them. Taken by a family of African-American photographers who lived in Covin, Alabama, the images reveal the lives of the photographers as well as those being photographed.

Featuring African Americans and whites who lived in or were traveling through the county, the images illustrate the significance of the photographic experience in the early 20th century and expose the places, events, and possessions valued by people in the community. The photographs are mostly outdoor portraits of fami…

I Love My Librarian Award Nominations

Do you know a Birmingham Public Librarian who goes beyond the call of duty? A national contest wants to know.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012, is the deadline to nominate a librarian for the I Love My Librarian Award, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and The New York Times.

Ten national winners will be selected. Each will receive $5,000, a plaque, and a $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception in New York. A plaque will also be given to each winner's library.

Saundra Ross-Forrest, BPL branch manager at North Avondale Library, was one of the 10 winners in 2011. She was the only librarian from Alabama to win last year. Will BPL see a repeat this year? We sure hope so! We have some of the best librarians around and we want the world to know it.

Don't delay. Please nominate your favorite librarian today! Nominations can only be made online. To get started, go to

"Life is good where grits are swallered.”

On the eve of our second annual Eat Drink Read Write Festival, let us take a moment to remember the immortal words of Southern humorist Roy Blount, Jr,:

“True grits, more grits, fish, grits and collards.
Life is good where grits are swallered.”

Life is indeed good here in Birmingham (and at BPL) where grits are "swallered." And for EDRW, we'll have much more than grits. We'll have cheese, craft beer, pizza pie, gourmet popcorn, Junior Mint brownies and M&M cookies, Conecuh sausage skewers with roasted Alabama peppers and onions served with a mustard jam, appetizers from local chefs and bakeries, and all manner of refreshments in between.

We'll also enjoy books, lectures, movies, discussions, stories, and crafts with a host of great participants and attendees. It's going to be a scream.We're thrilled about the attention this year's EDRW has garnered from media outlets all over the city, state, and region.

And don't forget our GRAND PRIZE…