Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brown Bag Lunch Program: A Christmas Memory with Dolores Hydock

Join us for our annual tradition with Birmingham storyteller and actress Dolores Hydock as she presents A Christmas Memory. Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama is brought to vivid life in this wonderful holiday performance. Wednesday, December 5, noon. There will be an encore performance Tuesday, December 11, at 6:30 p.m., at the Central Library.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Central Library, Linn Henley Research Building, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor. For more information call 226-3604 or visit

Library Supporters in the Big Parade!

Staff and Friends at the 2007 Christmas Parade

Do you love your library? Do you love a parade? This Tuesday, December 4, supporters of the Birmingham Public Library will be marching in the city's annual downtown Christmas parade. Having a throng following the BPL banner will not only celebrate the library's importance to our community, it will be a show of support for an institution we need and love. Bring your kids, your friends, your neighbors, your current crush.

If you would like to join the parade, please meet at Kelley Ingram Park at 4:30 p.m., sporting some form of holiday gear (reindeer antlers, Santa hat, sleigh bells) and ready to walk. If you would like to make a poster to carry in the parade, we suggest these slogans: Winning Minds Start @ Birmingham Public Library; We ♥ BPL; Friends of BPL JOIN US; Use Your L!brary Voice; Support Public Libraries in Birmingham.

Hope to see you there! With bells on!

Regina Ammon, President
Friends of the Birmingham Public Library

#GivingTuesday a Wonderful Success! Still a Few More Items on the Library’s WishList

The Birmingham Public Library would like to thank all of our wonderful donors from Birmingham and beyond for making #GivingTuesday so successful! As of this writing, we have raised $4,300 of our $6,000 goal. And donations are still coming in. For most of the campaign, each of your gifts has been matched one-to-one by one of our generous Foundation Board members—so each $10 gift has become $20, each $100 gift has become $200, and so on.

Our goal is to complete this campaign by January 1, 2013, so that we can purchase each and every item in the new year. Please take a look at our list here, and consider donating enough for an entire wish or helping complete a wish with other donors. No amount is too small.

Birmingham Public Library WishList

This year is the launch of #GivingTuesday—a day dedicated to giving that falls on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Nationwide, thousands of charities, corporations, and foundations—including the Birmingham Public Library—have promoted #GivingTuesday to encourage charitable giving around the holidays. It’s the perfect time to spend some of your holiday money to help out your favorite non-profit.

#GivingTuesday Website

Just how big was #Giving Tuesday this year? Here are some incredible numbers:
  • Donor tracking company Blackbaud processed $10 million in online donations on inaugural #GivingTuesday – a 53% increase when compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year.
  • #GivingTuesday became a trending topic on Twitter in the United States on Nov. 26. It trended for much of the day on Nov. 27 and intermittently trended as a global topic as well.
  • Media outlets reaching all 50 U.S. states covered both local and national initiatives.
  • The #GivingTuesday message was echoed in statements from the mayors of Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York, philanthropy leaders including Bill Gates, and the White House.

BPL will continue to promote the Library WishList throughout the holiday season or until each wish on our list is granted. Thank you to all who have donated! It has made our holiday season very bright!

JCLC Teams Up with Barnes & Noble and California Pizza Kitchen for Fundraiser and Book Drive

This holiday season, take a break from the hustle & bustle and give the gift of reading.

  • Visit Barnes & Noble December 10-14 and buy a children’s or young adult’s book(s) to donate to the YWCA Santa’s Workshop (as well as the rest of your holiday shopping). You must present a Barnes & Noble voucher at time of purchase, or enter the voucher ID number if purchasing online at Vouchers may be printed from, or picked up at any Jefferson County public library. A percentage of your entire purchase will be donated to the libraries of Jefferson County.

  • Next, stop by California Pizza Kitchen and drop off your book(s) to be donated to the YWCA while enjoying a bite to eat, anytime December 10-14. Dine in, take out or cater; you can even go to and order online. You must present a California Pizza Kitchen voucher to your server, which are available at, or any Jefferson County public library. 20% of your check will be donated to the libraries of Jefferson County.

  • On December 14, donated books will be delivered to the YWCA Santa’s Workshop, an annual holiday event for families living in shelters and transitional housing.

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Get Style Tips for the Season During "Fashion Friday" at the Birmingham Public Library

    You've received your first party invitation of the social season and you have no idea what to wear.

    Does that black necklace go with that new sequined dress? Are boots cool for a cocktail event? Exactly what does the host mean when she says the attire is "creative black tie''?

    Birmingham fashion blogger Alexis Barton of wants to put your mind at ease. On Friday, December 7, at 12:00 p.m., she will give style tips as part of "Fashion Friday,'' which will be held on the fourth floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place. The program, presented by the Birmingham Public Library and Birmingham magazine, is free.

    "I hope this event will calm people's anxiety around dressing for social occasions and help them see that there are a variety of options for putting together their own looks,'' Barton said. "Sequins will be involved.''

    Library fashion books and more will also be available to help you achieve your best look for the season.

    For more information, contact Birmingham Public Library Public Relations Director Chanda Temple at

    City of Birmingham's Annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony

    The City of Birmingham's annual Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony will be Tuesday, December 4, 5:00-7:00 p.m., at 20th Street North and Park Place. The event will include children's arts and crafts, a drawing for a bicycle, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and an appearance by Hollywood actor and Auburn University graduate Michael O'Neill, who's appeared in The West Wing, Grey's Anatomy, Transformers, and many other films. Storyteller Verna Gates, Sounds of Praise Choir, and the Magic City Choral Society will perform. For more information, call Urban Impact at 328-1850.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Book Review: Angelology

    Danielle Trussoni

    One thing that makes an alternative history good is that it can give you an especially unsettling jolt with the realization that, not only are things not as you think they are, they never were. You get this feeling a few times in Angelology, which sort of (but not exactly) does for angels what Interview with the Vampire did for vampires. You soon find out that the offspring of fallen angels and humans, the Nephilim, have been around since at least Old Testament times, passing themselves off as humans, and they’re not here to help. Their cousins, the fallen angels, may also exist here in physical form. On a line with Dan Brown books at one end and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose at the other, Angelology is about halfway between the two, more literary than Brown’s novels but more accessible than Eco’s book.

    It all starts with Sister Evangeline, a nun in upstate New York who is no one special particularly and who’d just as soon keep it that way. A researcher, a Mr. Valentine, contacts her and unwittingly ends her life of spiritual order and routine. He’s looking for certain documents that will also end up shattering the life he likes as well. This new reality (and para-reality) will force the two into the world of the angelologists, a secret, ancient, worldwide and ecumenical group that has one purpose: studying fallen angels and Nephilim and combatting them. (This is the only plot hole: how could bad angels, bad quasi-angels, and heroic angelologists remain secret for so long? Answer: skip over this and enjoy the book).

    There’s plenty to happily chew on here: the not-so-usual hidden texts, and new slants on the Book of Enoch, the myth of Orpheus and the Bible. And, of course, dust-laden secret passageways, code words, and conspiracy theories (all freshened up). Trussoni ties it all together well, and the plot pretty much always hums right along. There is one thematic thing that’s not so smooth. That’s the fact that, as you learn about the Nephilim, you begin to realize that they are stand-ins for some of the most unvirtuous aspects of humanity, some of which we tend to frame as accepted, and acceptable, behavior. That’s more unsettling than anything a vampire’s capable of.

    Richard Grooms
    Fiction Department
    Central Library

    Khan Academy (Not Just for Trekkers)

    I have to confess when I first read a review for Khan Academy the only image that came to mind was Captain Kirk screeching the name of his arch nemesis. But the review was in, the Voice of Youth Advocates, a library journal justly famous for its professional judgments, so I guessed the site would be something other than Klingons sneezing at tribbles. In other words, I wasn’t expecting fun.

    The review was in the Voya column YA-Clicks, created by librarian Rebecca Purdy with contributions by the youth who use the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. One student, Emily Stant, described Khan Academy as a place with a huge number of high quality videos on topics ranging from American civics to finance. She promised that the site is easily navigable and “a wonderful tool to use both for learning and teaching.”

    The good people at Khan describe themselves as “…an organization on a mission. We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.” The site offers self-testing, videos, and self-paced learning tools on math, computer science, chemistry, biology, and physics.

    “Self-paced learning tools.” Not only does this sound like the Vulcan Science Academy, it doesn’t sound like fun. But my interest was piqued by one line in the about tab describing “badges worth bragging about.” You see, Khan Academy believes in "game mechanics."

    This is how it works. You log onto the site, choose a subject, say basic math, and then practice. If you find you’re having trouble, view straight-forward videos on the specific problem you’re experiencing. You accrue points for each problem correctly solved. And with enough points, you gain…BADGES! Some of these badges are described as legendary, because they are not cheaply won.

    Now admittedly Kahn Academy isn’t Halo or Black Ops 2, but I found myself click, click, clicking away at fraction questions in order to raise my point level. It’s addictive. And you are learning. And it’s fun. Yeah, I said it; it’s actually fun.

    David Ryan
    Business, Science & Technology
    Central Library

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Children's Book Review: Jake and Lily (Ages 8 and Up)

    Jake and Lily
    Jerry Spinelli

    This is the newest novel by Newbery award winning, Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee). It’s a delightful read chocked with good humor and well-developed characters. This is told from the dual point of view of Jake and Lily, they alternate chapters with journal entries from each twin. The twins are inseparable from the moment they are born; they even share a secret twin power that they dubbed “goombla." This power allows one twin to be constantly aware of where the other is and what they are doing. It certainly made hide and seek a drag, but when one twin was lost or in trouble, the power was invaluable. The twins reveled in their secret connection until one day Jake decides he wants to be himself rather than half of a twin. He makes friends of his own and Lily despairs as their link weakens and seemingly disappears. The reader follows Jake as he strikes out on his own and he unwittingly becomes a bully and learns what it means to be a true friend. Lily struggles with the loss of her power and her brother’s absence. She works to get a life and friends of her own. Readers follow the eleven year old twins as they learn to become independent people.

    The simple vocabulary and short chapters make this a good read for younger elementary age kids from third to sixth grade. I think that the depth of character and humor shines through enough to make this an enjoyable title for older readers, too. Whether you are a twin or know one, the relationship that they share is intriguing, humorous, and touching. This is a great book for learning about self-discovery, independence, and bullying. It tackles many issues without sounding too preachy or saccharine. I highly recommend it.

    Mollie Harrison
    Springville Road Library

    BPL to Participate in a Nationally-Recognized Day of Giving: #GivingTuesday!!!

    "There's a day for giving thanks. Now there's a day for giving back." Those are words from #GivingTuesday signs created to celebrate the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

    According to the official mission, "#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations."

    For us at the Birmingham Public Library, #GivingTuesday will allow our supporters an opportunity to grant wishes on our Library WishList.

    So far, several of the items have been donated completely and we truly appreciate this good will. We've included many items on our WishList which fall outside the scope of our budget. Your contributions will help us continue to fulfill our mission statement, which is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life long learning, cultural enrichment and enjoyment.

    Also, if you donate between now and the end of the day on #GivingTuesday, we will match your contribution 100%!

    You may also make a general contribution to BPL by clicking here.

    Thank you for your support! We could not be the institution we are without your help! Have a great #GivingTuesday!!!

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Library Closing Early Today

    Happy Thanksgiving

    The Birmingham Public Library and its branches will close early today at 2 p.m. The Central Library and other BPL branches will remain closed Nov. 22 - Nov. 25 for the Thanksgiving holidays. We will reopen during regular business hours on Monday, Nov. 26.

    The Jefferson County Office of Senior Citizens Services, however, will still meet at 2 p.m. today in the first floor conference room of the downtown library, 2100 Park Place.

    Chanda Temple
    Director of Public Relations
    Central Library

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    The Birmingham News Will Host a Tech Seminar Tonight in the RLCC at Central Library

    More and more news can be found on the Internet these days, and wants to help you find it.

    On Tuesday, November 20, at 6:00 p.m., and The Birmingham News will host a seminar to teach readers how to use iPads, laptops, and smartphones to find news on This free class will be held in the fourth floor computer center of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place. iPads will be provided. However, attendees may also bring their own tablets, smartphones, or laptops. Instructors will talk about how to access news, weather, sports and more. By the end of the session, attendees will be pros.To register, email or call 205-306-3135.AARP and AT&T are event co-sponsors.

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    A Book's Tale

    The journey of a thousand pages begins with one word. Well, at least that's how one book might begin its tale. Each book has a story, and this one is about how one book made its way home on a shelf here at the Birmingham Public Library.

    BPL Closed November 22-25 for Thanksgiving Holiday

    Happy Thanksgiving imageAll locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed November 22-25 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    The Birmingham News To Host a Tech Seminar at BPL

    More and more news can be found on the Internet these days, and wants to help you find it.

    On Tuesday, November 20, at 6:00 p.m., and The Birmingham News will host a seminar to teach readers how to use iPads, laptops, and smartphones to find news on This free class will be held in the fourth floor computer center of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place. iPads will be provided. However, attendees may also bring their own tablets, smartphones, or laptops. Instructors will talk about how to access news, weather, sports and more. By the end of the session, attendees will be pros.To register, email or call 205-306-3135.AARP and AT&T are event co-sponsors.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Sirens of Holiday Song

    Christmas music is already being played in some department stores, on radio stations, and maybe in your home or car. Whatever the case may be, the choices only get better and more varied with the many recordings being made of traditional carols, holiday standards, and new songs that are written each year. Many female vocalists put their own unique style, sound, and interpretation into this wonderful music. The Arts/Literature/Sports Department of the Birmingham Public Library offers many recordings for you to check out for your listening pleasure. Here are a few sirens of song that I found in our holiday cd collection at the time of writing this blog entry. Come in and visit with us in the Arts/Literature/Sports Department located on the second floor of the Birmingham Public Library.

    JAZZY AND SULTRY SIRENS - These vocalists offer a swinging jazzy spin on Christmas tunes old and new while singing around the melody and scatting on some. Some of the selections feature their smoky creamy vocals that will surely make it cozy on a cold blustery day, snuggling up inside and drinking hot chocolate.

    Dianne Reeves – Christmas Time Is Here
    Jane Monheit – The Season
    Diana Krall – Christmas Songs
    Etta James - 12 Songs of Christmas
    Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas

    SOULFUL SIRENS - These songstresses pour lots of emotion and feeling into each song they sing. You might hear about love lost or gone bad during the holidays, a slamming have-a-good-time party atmosphere, a gospel-rousing rendition of a holiday tune, or maybe even a sprinkling of classical with a touch of soul. Most of these vocalists have an extensive range that allows them to sing in the alto or soprano range. These artists offer lots of variety on these recordings that will touch many of your emotions.

    Oleta Adams – Christmas Time With Oleta
    Toni Braxton – Snowflakes
    Aretha Franklin – This Christmas
    Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas II You

    COUNTRY CROONING SIRENS - These singers croon Christmas selections with a touch of country mixed with their own unique interpretation. Country is definitely cool.

    Anne Murray – Best of the Season
    Wynonna – A Classic Christmas
    Emmylou Harris – Light Of The Stable

    POP GOES THE SIRENS – These singers add a nice modern pop style touch to many songs of the holiday season, but not in the traditional way of singing the melody completely straight but the familiar ones are still very recognizable. These tunes will catch your attention quickly.

    Bette Midler – Cool Yule
    Annie Lennox – A Christmas Cornucopia
    Katherine McPhee – Christmas Is the Time To Say I Love You
    Celine Dion – These Are Special Times
    Vanessa Williams – Star Bright

    SPIRIT-FILLED SIRENS – These singers deliver songs with a strong conviction and testament to their faiths. Your spirit will be stirred and you will quickly realize in your heart the true meaning of Christmas and the reason for the season.

    Mahalia Jackson – Christmas with Mahalia
    Shirley Caesar – Giving and Sharing: A Christmas Collection
    Yolanda Adams – What A Wonderful Time

    Russell Lee
    Arts, Literature & Sports
    Central Library

    A Challenge For BPL Supporters!

    One of the Library's Foundation Board members has issued a challenge grant of $1,000 to help fund items on our Library WishList. He is asking supporters in the Birmingham community match it by November 27th, which is #GivingTuesday!

    If you donate between now and #GivingTuesday, your donation will be doubled--up to $1,000.

    As you may remember from this previous post, #GivingTuesday is a way to transform the giving season by supporting worthy organizations in your community.

    So far, we have had five wishes funded on our list and another donor has pledged at least two more.

    Thanks to our Board member's challenge grant, you have the opportunity to double the impact of your support – which means your $50 check can become a one hundred dollar investment in the Birmingham Public Library; your $100 commitment can become two hundred dollars invested toward helping us provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life long learning, cultural enrichment and enjoyment. We appreciate our Foundation Board member for issuing such a generous challenge.

    If you're donating online, please type "challenge grant" on the donation page. Also, please make a note of the challenge grant if you're writing a check, which you may mail here:

    Birmingham Public Library
    Library WishList
    2100 Park Place
    Birmingham, AL 35203

    Thank you for your support!! You are investing not only in the library but in the Birmingham community and we truly appreciate you.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Brown Bag Lunch Program: Season of Love Concert by D' Marie

    Birmingham singer/songwriter D' Marie will present a free holiday concert on Wednesday, November 14, at noon in the Arrington Auditorium of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place. She'll help you start your holiday season on the right note by singing holiday songs and love songs from her upcoming CD, H2O. For more information call 226-3604.

    Singer/songwriter D’ Marie is a “new” voice on the music scene in Birmingham, Alabama. Through all of her life’s endeavors—which have been numerous—she has never stopped feeling the pull of music, one of her earliest loves. Although she is better known to some as a pastor, a teacher, and a church musician, now D’ Marie is sharing her musical gifts and graces in new ways and different venues creating memorable moments through presence, word, and song. A gifted vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and pianist, D’ Marie is expanding her reach through music—giving voice to the voiceless, bringing healing, motivating worship, and drawing people into the loving presence of God. Her newest recording project, H2O—an inspirational blend of original music that celebrates the beauty and sacredness of love in its many variations while also providing emotional release from love’s agonies—is due for release in late 2012.

    Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Central Library, Linn Henley Research Building, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor. For more information call 226-3604 or visit

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Flow Tactics Teen Open Mic at the YMCA Youth Center

    Teens, get your poetry on at the Flow Tactics Teen Open Mic every 3rd Saturday from 6:00 to 8:00 the YMCA Youth Center, 2400 7th Avenue North (near Phillips Academy). Admission is free. The sessions are for high school students only. To sign up to perform or for more information, e-mail November's program is scheduled for Saturday, November 17.

    Flow Tactics is sponsored by The Real Life Poets, the Mayor's Office Division of Youth Services, YMCA Youth Center, and the WORD UP! Student Poetry Slam Committee of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. WORD UP! is an annual poetry slam for Jefferson County high school students hosted by the Birmingham Public Library.

    Friday, November 09, 2012

    BPL Archives Opens Robert E. Chambliss’ Letters to the Public

    Bomb damage to Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, September 15, 1963.
    Photo courtesy of BPL Archives.

    Archives acquire new collections in different ways. Sometimes an archivist will spend months or even years researching a possible source for a collection, contacting a potential donor, and negotiating with the donor to secure the donation. Other times, archivists have collections fall into their laps. One recent windfall came from the Birmingham field office of the F.B.I. when they offered the BPL Archives the prison letters of Robert E. Chambliss.

    Chambliss was the first person convicted for the 1963 bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. A long-time member of the Ku Klux Klan, Chambliss was involved in several acts of racial violence and suspected in numerous Birmingham area bombings. His skill as a bomb maker earned him the nickname “Dynamite Bob.” Chambliss was tried and convicted for his role in the church bombing in 1977 and died in prison in 1985. The Archives will open these letters to the public on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, the 35th anniversary of the first day of Chambliss trial.

    These letters were not available to previous historians of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing and they give us added insight into the mind of a home-grown terrorist. Readers hoping to find a confession or expressions of remorse will be disappointed. There are no smoking guns here. Instead, writing to his wife, attorney and other family members Chambliss maintains his innocence, blames others for the crime and spins conspiracy theories. But readers hoping for a deeper level of understanding into the type person who would hold Chambliss’ beliefs and act upon those beliefs, even to the extent of murdering four young girls, will find these letters illuminating and disturbing.

    Readers who wish to know more about Chambliss, his crimes and the time in which he lived should see Diane McWhorter’s book Carry Me Home: The Climatic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution; Frank Sikora’s Until Justice Rolls Down: The Birmingham Church Bombing Case, a study of the bombing investigation and trials; and Elizabeth H. Cobb’s/Petric J. Smith’s Long Time Coming: An Insider’s Story of the Birmingham Church Bombing that Rocked the World.

    A guide to the letters is available on the BPL web site.

    To accompany the letters BPL has digitized the transcript of Chambliss’ trial with funding from the Alabama Public Library Service. The transcript is available on the BPL web site. 

    Beginning Wednesday, November 14, 2012, the Robert E. Chambliss Papers will be open to the public in the Archives Department during the Archives’ regular operating hours, Monday-Friday, 9:00-6:00. For more information contact BPL Archivist Jim Baggett at

    Jim Baggett
    Archives Department
    Central Library

    Veterans Day: Born in Birmingham

    As we approach Veterans Day this year (November 11, 2012, but observed on November 12), I’d like to offer a little bit of history about the very important role Birmingham and one man, in particular, played in the holiday’s establishment.

    First observed in 1919 to honor the soldiers and sailors of World War I, the “War to end all wars,” the day was originally called Armistice Day. It was named after the cessation of hostilities with Germany which went into effect on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 am. Armistice Day soon became a very important day for the City of Birmingham. The annual parade was a source of great pride for Birmingham and came to be known as the largest Armistice Day parade in the nation. The following decades saw Birmingham putting on parades that were seen by as many as 250,000 spectators (1949), included 20,000 participants (1926), and lasted up to two hours and covered 40 city blocks (1950).

    In the years after World War II, the director of Birmingham’s Armistice Day celebrations was a man named Raymond W. Weeks. Weeks was a veteran of the Second World War and felt strongly that the day should be changed to honor veterans of all military conflicts, not just World War I. As he was building up Birmingham’s Armistice Day celebrations, he was also lobbying in Washington, D.C. to get the holiday officially changed to Veterans Day (a term he had been using since 1947). His cause was taken up by Representative Edward Rees of Kansas. Rees introduced legislation making the change which was signed into law by President Eisenhower on June 1, 1954.

    President Reagan presents Citizens Medal to Raymond Weeks
    The Birmingham News, November 10, 1982
    Weeks continued to be in charge of Veterans Day activities in Birmingham until his death in 1985. In 1982, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan in recognition of his hard work and dedication to our country’s veterans. On September 20, 2012, a resolution was introduced to the House of Representatives recognizing Weeks and Birmingham for their roles in this historic day. Information about Birmingham’s 2012 Veterans Day events can be found on the site of the group, the National Veterans Day in Birmingham.

    For additional information about the history of Veterans Day in Birmingham, the Southern History Department has newspaper clippings and other interesting items available on microfiche for patrons to view.

    M.B. Newbill
    Southern History
    Central Library

    Thursday, November 08, 2012

    Darryl Patton: the Southern Herbalist

    Join us on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm for a presentation by renown herbalist and folk medicine expert Darryl Patton - the Southern Herbalist - at Birmingham Public Library's Springville Road Regional Library.

    Darryl Patton is a primitive and wilderness survival expert, outdoorsman, adventure traveler, and herbalist who studied under the tutelage of Tommie Bass - one of the last of the old Appalachian Mountain herb doctors. Patton teaches wilderness survival skills around the country, is an instructor with Randall's Adventure Training in Ft. Payne, and has been a consultant for the Discovery Channel's 'Man vs. Wild' with Bear Gryllis.

    The presentation will last about forty-five minutes and will focus on the traditional edible and medicinal uses of many of the indigenous plants that can be found in the Appalachian region of the southeastern states. Patton will have many plants that are common to our area on hand during the presentation and will have copies of his book 'Mountain Medicine, the Herbal Remedies of Tommie Bass' available for purchase during the program.

    This event is presented as part of an ongoing series of gardening programs presented by the Springville Road Regional Branch of the Birmingham Public Library.

    Darryl Patton - Southern Herbalist
    Tuesday, November 13, 2012
    Springville Road Library

    Wednesday, November 07, 2012

    Calling All Authors! Sign Up for the 2013 Local Authors Expo

    Registration has begun for the 2013 Local Authors Expo, presented by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library. To be held on February 2, the annual Expo provides an opportunity for authors from the Birmingham area and elsewhere in Alabama to meet their reading public, autograph copies of their books, and network with others in the writing community.

    Every year the library hosts up to 100 authors. Those already scheduled to attend the 2013 event include Jessie Crawford Jr. (the Leroy children’s series), J. D. Weeks (Birmingham: A Postcard Tour), Suzanne Johnson (Royal Street), Carolyn McKinstry (While the World Watched), and many more.

    Any authors who wish to sign up for a booth at the event may do so online at the EventBrite registration page. There is a $5 booth fee for participants, but attending the Expo will be free for the general public, no registration required.

    For more information, contact Jared Millet at (205) 226-3727.

    February 2, 2013
    10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    Central Library

    Monday, November 05, 2012

    Some Like It Hot

    photo of chili peppers
    A peck of ghost peppers picked in my garden on November 1st.
    There are several staff members at the Springville Road Library that absolutely love spicy foods and when I say spicy, I mean foods with a whole lot of heat. We go through bottles of sriracha the way most workplaces go through bottles of ketchup. Wasabi mashed potatoes are popular at our potlucks and many of our staff consider Red Hots to be a mild-mannered after dinner mint.

    However, Springville Road staff recently encountered a food so hot that it gave pause to even the most diehard heatseekers among us.

    This is the time of year that hot peppers are the only summer crops that are still doing well in my garden. I have dozens of jalapeños and thai chili peppers ripe for the picking.  I even have two habanero plants that are still full of those devilish little orange peppers.

    The plant that is doing the best in my garden this year has been the bhut jolokia plant—a plant that is more commonly known as the ghost pepper. Ghost peppers are the third hottest pepper known to mankind and the single plant in my garden that I grew from seed has produced bushels of them since early September.

    The heat level of peppers is measured in what are called Scoville units and ghost peppers are routinely rated at over one million Scoville units. Compare that to the jalapeño pepper’s eight thousand Scoville units.

    When you have a large crop of ghost peppers,  there are few friends and neighbors whom wish  to share in such a fiery bounty.  So I have been making ghost pepper jelly, saving seeds for next years garden, and sharing the peppers with my heatseeking colleagues here at the Springville Road Library.

    Several staff members were brave enough to consume a ghost pepper or sample some of the the ghost pepper jelly.  The resultant streams of tears can provide ample testimony to the strong level of heat that these peppers can unleash on the human body.

    Some of the staff—including myself—have utilized the ghost peppers in finding some relief from a vicious round of sinus infections that were plaguing the library about a month ago. A little research on capsaicin—the active ingredient that produces the heat from a pepper—in several Birmingham Public Library linked databases such as Medline Plus  and PubMed indicates that this substance is being utilized for a variety of medical and research purposes - including weight loss and pain relief.  It turns out that relief of sinus congestion is not mentioned in any of the articles returned by searches on these particular databases.

    Of course the primary use of ghost peppers should be in the culinary realm and the Birmingham Public Library has many books devoted to cooking with hot peppers. While none of the books in our collections specifically mention ghost peppers (as of this writing), there are plenty of books covering the cultivation and preparation of hot peppers (as well mild peppers for those who cannot handle much heat).

    Further reading:

    Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland

    The Peppers Cookbook : 200 Recipes from the Pepper Lady's Kitchen  by Jean Andrews
    Chile Peppers: Hot Tips and Tasty Picks for Gardeners and Gourmets edited by Beth Hanson and Janet Marinelli

    Hot peppers : Cajuns and Capsicum in New Iberia, Louisiana by Richard Schweid (Library Use Only)

    A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider (for the Wasabi Mashed Potatoes recipe)

    Give to the Library WishList on #GivingTuesday!

    On Tuesday, November 27, 2012, BPL will join a nationwide movement celebrating a new day dedicated to giving. Charities, families, businesses, community centers, students, retailers, and more will come together to create #GivingTuesday—a new movement to celebrate giving and encourage more, better, and smarter giving during the holiday season.

    Now is your chance to give to BPL through Library WishList! Our goal is to raise $6,000 this holiday season and fulfill the wishes of BPL’s 19 libraries! Click the logo below to see BPL's WishList.


    More about #GivingTuesday...

    #GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give. It will culminate with a national day of giving on November 27, 2012. This first-of-its-kind effort harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses and individuals—to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season. #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate and help create a better world. #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays that is dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping.

    Give to BPL at
    #GivingTuesday website:

    The Birmingham Public Library Hosts Adult Poetry Class, November 6

    John Paul TaylorAward-winning poet and community activist John Paul Taylor will lead a free adult poetry workshop on Tuesday, November 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the downtown Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. Gifts of a Wordsmith will take place on the library's second floor in the Story Castle. The topic for the November 6th session will be “How to Organize Your Writing Life," focusing on a book called Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money by Kelly James-Enger. The workshop will also deal with how to find work as a freelance writer.

    These poetry workshops are held every first Tuesday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the downtown Birmingham Public Library and is funded by the Friends of BPL.

    Taylor is one of the founders of Real Life Poets, a nonprofit creative writing program based in Birmingham.

    For more information on the adult poetry class, contact Taylor at or 205-585-8271. The Real Life Poets website is The BPL contact is Haruyo Miyagawa, 205-226-3670. Her email address is

    Workshop: “How to Organize Your Writing Life"
    Presenter: John Paul Taylor
    Place: Central Library
    Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
    Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
    Cost: Free and open to the public
    Registration: Not required

    Saturday, November 03, 2012

    Learning Digital Basics

    Beginner Button

    From time to time, a patron will ask for assistance and make the comment, “I am computer illiterate.”  Although it seems like children master Google, Facebook, and Twitter before they master walking, all of us at one time or another were "computer illiterate."  However, with a little time and effort, everyone can develop basic computer skills.

    Two of the most common questions I hear from people who need assistance are “How do I set up an e-mail account?” and “How can I find this on the Internet?”.  The Beehive’s Digital Basics provides assistance with both of these topics along with other common questions.  Tutorials include searching the Web using Google, setting up an e-mail account through Gmail, and creating a strong password.  Users can also find information on how to set up Facebook and Skype accounts.  Tips on protecting your PC and managing your web browser are also included.

    The website is listed in BPL Databases as the Beehive – Learning Digital Basics.  You may need more assistance than these tutorials provide, but it’s a great place to start.  You were savvy enough to find this blog post, so I’m sure you have what it takes, in the words of the Beehive, to "learn to use computers and the Internet safely and intelligently."      

    Friday, November 02, 2012

    From Page to Stage – Readers’ Theatre for Children Workshop

    From Page to Stage – Readers’ Theatre for Children Workshop

    Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage, a Readers’ Theatre workshop for children, coming to a library near you!

    In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Peter Pan, BPL will be hosting free workshops at its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will have the opportunity to learn how storybook characters come alive though the magic of a theatrical play. JLB will be on hand to coach the children through the play and introduce them to related literature within the walls of their local library. Each child will also receive TWO FREE TICKETS (one child ticket and one adult ticket) to a Birmingham Children’s Theatre main stage performance of Peter Pan.

    Space is limited, so please visit here to sign up now or visit/call a participating library to register a child for the workshop. A valid email address from the child or guardian is required to sign up.

    Dates, times, and library locations:

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    East Ensley Branch Library – 10:00 AM – 787-1928
    East Lake Branch Library – 2:30 PM – 836-3341
    Titusville Branch Library – 2:30 PM – 322-1140

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Smithfield Branch Library – 10:00 AM – 324-8428
    Southside Branch Library – 2:30 PM – 933-7776
    West End Branch Library – 11:00 AM – 226-4089

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Avondale Regional Library – 3:00 PM – 226-4003
    Central Library – 3:00 PM – 226-3651
    Eastwood Branch Library – 3:00 PM – 591-4944
    Five Points West Regional Library – 3:00 PM – 226-4017

    Written and submitted by Allison Scanlan
    BPL Literacy/ Outreach

    What a Feeling

    We all like to be recognized and hear positive comments from our employers and co-workers—it's that stuff that makes us feel valued and motivates us to give of ourselves beyond 100%.

    But when recognition comes from the public we serve, i.e. our library patrons, it skyrockets us into the stratosphere. And that's what happened at the North Avondale Branch when a mother of four visited the library with a special letter delivery to the staff. This letter included a thank you to the staff and comments about the greatness of the library.

    Comments like "I know that I am thankful when I am able to let my kids come to the library," "they want to be there for the programs and services the library has to offer," and "homework help is available for my children" are the very reasons it is worth getting up in the morning to go to work and to be there for the many patrons that need us.

    So remember, when we are hard at work, patrons out there do take notice that we are making a difference and appreciate us.

    Saundra Ross
    North Avondale Library

    Phyllis Theroux's Journal Writing Seminar, November 4

    Essayist Phyllis Theroux has long captivated readers with her pitch-perfect rendering of the inner lives of women. Her book, The Journal Keeper: A Memoir, covers six years of her anything but uneventful life and demonstrates how journal keeping can serve as a cathartic and rewarding avocation. Theroux calls it her daily "light box to save the things I think are the most beautiful, poignant or funny."

    Theroux is hosting a seminar, talk and book signing at Central Library on Sunday, November 4, 2012, in the Arrington Auditorium. Schedule is as follows:

    3:00-4:00 p.m.—Journal Writing Seminar. Registration required at

    4:00-5:00 p.m—Talk and book signing. Registration not required.

    The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required for the seminar. Call 226-3670 or e-mail for information.

    Visit The Journal Keeper website for more information about the author and her book.

    Avondale Library Hosts Tonight's B&B

    WHO: Birmingham Public Library (BPL)
    WHAT: Bards & Brews: BPL’s Poetry Performance Series
    WHEN: Friday, November 2, 2012, 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
    Live Music and Sign Up at 6:30 p.m.
    Call Time at 7:00 p.m.
    WHERE: Avondale Regional Library, 509 40th Street South

    The Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series is hitting the road in November. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the November 2nd edition of Bards & Brews will travel to the Avondale Regional Library at 509 40th Street South. The program, which will be OPEN MIC, begins at 6:30 p.m. with live music, and poetry performances starting at 7:00. Emcee Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins will deftly guide both novice and veteran poets through an evening of verse with topics that run the gamut from romantic relationships to the local political scene. The program is free of charge and open to the public.

    Craft beer from Blue Pants Brewery out of Madison, Alabama, will be available for sampling and light refreshments will be served. Music performed by the Bo Berry Trio.Attendees must be 18 years or older to be admitted, and 21 years or older to be served. IDs will be checked.

    This Friday is also the Fall Festivale at Old Car Heaven.The after-party will be at Avondale Brewing Co.—good timing for sauntering over after B&B.

    Bards & Brews is usually held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around town. However, there will not be a Bards & Brews in December. We’ll be back on January 4 at the downtown Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. Check out the Bards & Brews page on Facebook for more information. This program is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Thursday, November 01, 2012

    Opening Reception for the Exhibit Attorney Shores' Scrapbook: The Life and Times of Birmingham's Civil Rights Lawyer and Civic Leader, 1939-1975, November 4

    Newspaper headline from Shores' scrapbook

    The Birmingham Historical Society and the Birmingham Public Library is showcasing the life and times of Birmingham civil rights attorney Arthur Shores in a special exhibit, November 4-December 28 at the Central Library. The exhibit features a scrapbook of newspaper reports and printed materials, which Shores collected throughout his legal and political career.

    The Birmingham Historical Society has copied numerous pages of the scrapbook, which is larger than the size of a newspaper, in order to display them in Central Library's 4th Floor Gallery. Shores, who was born in 1904, was a high school principal at Dunbar High School in Bessemer, Alabama, when he became a lawyer in 1937. Although Shores died in 1996 at the age of 92, the scrapbook and exhibit look at his career from 1939 to 1975.

    Some of the exhibit highlights include:

    • How Shores and Thurgood Marshall successfully fought to get Autherine Lucy enrolled as the first black student at the University of Alabama in 1956
    • How Shores became the first black person to sit on the Birmingham City Council in 1968
    • How Shores fought to strike down a Birmingham zoning law, which determined which side of Center Street black people could live. (Black people could not live on the west side of the street. The zoning law was struck down in 1946. Once people started moving to the west side of the street, their homes were bombed. Shores moved his family to an east corner of Center Street in 1953.)
    • How Shores' Birmingham home, which was located in an area that was known as "Dynamite Hill'' because of so many racist bombings, was bombed twice in 1963 because racists thought he was involved in an effort to integrate Birmingham schools that year
    • Ads, telegrams, and memorabilia from Shores' career

    "This is real history. These are real documents,'' says Marjorie White, director of the Birmingham Historical Society, of the exhibit and scrapbook. "It's like you were there.''

    "The exhibit will be fascinating. There's a lot to read, which library visitors will enjoy.''

    An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on November 4 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Remarks will be made at 3:30 p.m. A gallery guide and timeline are available at the exhibit and at .

    Barbara Shores (left) and Helen Shores Lee (right)
    with a scrapbook on their father, Arthur Shores.
    Photo by Bernard Troncale.

    Shores' daughters, Helen Shores Lee and Barbara Sylvia Shores, have written a book about their father. During the November 4 opening reception, they will sign copies of The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill: The Untold Story of Arthur D. Shores and His Family's Fight for Civil Rights. They wrote the book with Denise George. Helen Shores Lee is a Jefferson County circuit judge and Barbara Sylvia Shores is director of the Jefferson County Office of Senior Citizens Services. Both say they are humbled that an exhibit features their father, who fought for voting rights, housing issues, educational opportunities and more.

    "I'm sure if he were here, he'd be very pleased that there is a recognition of his work,'' says Helen Shores Lee.

    During his career, Shores kept newspaper articles about his career in a small scrapbook and suitcase. One day while home from graduate school at the University of Illinois in 1968, Barbara Sylvia Shores took her father's collection and put everything in a huge scrapbook. She had the pages laminated. Today, the scrapbook has 256 pages and includes 170 photographs.

    She says she did it so she'd have something to share with her children and their children. "It's a little history book,'' says Barbara Sylvia Shores.

    The official name of the exhibit is Attorney Shores' Scrapbook: The Life and Times of Birmingham's Civil Rights Lawyer and Civic Leader, 1939-1975.

    To read more about Shores, his career and his daughters' book, go to To view a slideshow about the Arthur Shores exhibit narrated by Barbara Shores and Helen Shores Lee, visit

    Chanda Temple
    Director of Public Relations for the Birmingham Public Library

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