Showing posts from April, 2013

Voices from the Storm Anthology Program and Reception, April 30

The tornadoes that ravaged Alabama on April 27, 2011 and January 23, 2012 affected everyone in the region—whether their lives or property sustained a direct hit or not. The “Voices from the Storm” project encouraged area residents to turn to writing in hopes that it would help both writers and readers heal from the wounds inflicted by the storms. Over 80 people of diverse ages and backgrounds sent in poems, essays, and short stories for the compilation. And now, just as the City of Birmingham prepares for the second anniversary of its April storm, a collection of works titled Voices from the Storm: Our Spirit Will Not Be Broken Anthology is ready for release.

Sponsored by the Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC), in partnership with the non-profit creative writing organization Real Life Poets (RLP), Inc., the publication will be unveiled during a program and reception on Tuesday, April 30 at the Birmingham Public Library’s downtown location. Several writers will read select…

Click It or Ticket

On Thursday April 4, 2013, my oldest son had a terrible car accident. It was raining and the roads were slick. He and his younger brother were on their way to school and, of course, he was driving much too fast. The car hydroplaned, they hit the curve, side swiped a light pole, drove into a ditch, and hit a tree head on. The car was totaled, but both of my boys walked away from that wreck without a scratch (praise God!). Although I give God all of the credit for saving my boys, the really good news is that they were both wearing their seat belts.

Seat belts save lives! And it’s the law to wear them. For those of you out there who wear your seat belts on a regular basis, please continue. For those of you who choose not to wear them, I encourage all to please start. Wearing seat belts can make the difference between life and death.

To read more on seat belt safety check out this great website and these books:

Staying Safe in the Car by Joanne Matte…

Tyler Perry, Madea's Alter Ego


The World Is Always Coming To An End

No, I’m not quoting Yogi Berra, but it does seem a new apocalypse is predicted every year. I’ve lost count of how many world ending events I should have witnessed in my lifetime. I remember that in March of 1982 our planet was supposed to crack open from multiple earth quakes triggered by something called the Jupiter effect. Evidently, Jupiter and Saturn were predicted to align with disastrous consequences for earth. I survived the apocalypse of 2000. The infestation of Millennium bugs failed to bring the modern, computerized world to a halt, but it did do wonders for the gun industry. I’ve become so deaf to the sound of approaching hoof beats that I barely noticed the Mayan end of the world last year. But the world never stops ending, and now that we have a new Pope we have a new end of the world.

In 1595 a 12th century prophecy was discovered in the Vatican library. Allegedly written by the Archbishop of Armagh in the midst of a divine vision, sometime around 1143, the prophecy of …

Federal Income Tax Turns 100

Now that everyone has endured the anxiety and exasperation that accompanies Tax Day, it is an appropriate time to sit back and contemplate just how we got to this point in our country’s revenue raising history. It is especially appropriate this year because 2013 marks the centennial of the passage of the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides the federal government with the authority to levy an income tax on the citizenry.

Taxes have always been a contentious issue between governments and the people whom they govern. Generally speaking, this contentiousness has centered on a single, but incredibly complex, issue: how equitably is the burden of taxation to be shared by all members of a given society. Famously, Americans of the Colonial period so strongly objected to a perceived inequity in the British government’s tax policy that they decided they would be better off not being a part of that government. As further evidence of the colonists’ dislike of in…

Mergent Online Joins List of Free BPL Databases

The Birmingham Public Library is pleased to announce the addition of Mergent Online and Mergent Archives to the list of online resources available remotely through our website.
Mergent Online provides in-depth U.S. and international company profiles that include but not limited to: financial statements, stock and bond performance data, institutional investor holdings, company news, executive profiles, business descriptions, annual reports, company filings, competitor information, equity prices, etc. Mergent Online also provides access to Dun & Bradstreet’s directory records for private companies.

Mergent Archives allows you to access a large collection of corporate-related information dating back to 1909. It includes Mergent’s Full Collection of Digitized Manuals: Bank & Finance, Industrial, International, Over-The-Counter Industrial, Public Utility, Transportation, Over-The-Counter Unlisted, and Municipal & Government manuals.

To access these databases, go to the libra…

Alabama’s First Birmingham


A recent examination of Colton’s 1860 map of Alabama revealed a community in the northeast corner of the state called Birmingham. Say what?!?! That’s right. Our very own city, founded in 1871, was not the state’s first Birmingham. A history of the state’s first Birmingham can be found in Birmingham, as it was, in Jackson county, Alabama by James F. Sulzby, Jr.

According to Sulzby, Birmingham was the name of a post office in Jackson County opened in 1845 by Anthony Crockett Austin who served as its postmaster. The surrounding community never incorporated, but had a store, a blacksmith shop, a gin, a tannery, two churches, two doctors, and approximately 75 families. The post office closed in 1853 because governmental services became concentrated in the neighboring town of Stevenson when a railroad was constructed through the area.
Ironically, the community first showed up on maps in 1853 as Birmingham, the year the post office for which it was named closed. It was known as Birming…

BPL Director Named State’s Eminent Librarian

Library professionals and supporters from across the state and region were in Montgomery this week for the annual Alabama Library Association (ALLA) Convention. In addition to the outstanding training opportunities, a key highlight—especially for the Birmingham delegation—was the President’s Reception on Thursday, April 25 where Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) Director Irene “Renee” Blalock received the Eminent Librarian Award. She received this honor for her advocacy, community service and service to the profession. The event took place at Alley Station.

According to the ALLA Awards Committee: "The Eminent Librarian Award shall be presented to a librarian or an individual in a related field who has been in Alabama for a minimum of ten (10) years and who, during this time, has made an exceptional and enduring contribution toward the development of library service within Alabama." Often described as an “idea person” and a believer in the transformative power of public…

Release of Tornado-Inspired Anthology Falls on Second Anniversary of April Storms

The tornadoes that ravaged Alabama on April 27, 2011 and January 23, 2012 affected everyone in the region—whether their lives or property sustained a direct hit or not. The “Voices from the Storm” project encouraged area residents to turn to writing in hopes that it would help both writers and readers heal from the wounds inflicted by the storms. Over 80 people of diverse ages and backgrounds sent in poems, essays, and short stories for the compilation. And now, just as the City of Birmingham prepares for the second anniversary of its April storm, a collection of works titled Voices from the Storm: Our Spirit Will Not Be Broken Anthology is ready for release.

Sponsored by the Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC), in partnership with the non-profit creative writing organization Real Life Poets (RLP), Inc., the publication will be unveiled during a program and reception on Tuesday, April 30 at the Birmingham Public Library’s downtown location. Several writers will read select…

BPL Archivist Jim Baggett Awarded Virginia Van Der Veer Hamilton Award

Birmingham Public Library Archivist Jim Baggett has been awarded the 2013 Virginia Van Der Veer Hamilton Award by the Alabama Historical Association. The award is presented to individuals who have made contributions to Alabama history which encourage joint historical endeavors and mutual understanding among nonprofessional and professional historians.

Jim’s focus throughout his career has been on public history—where lectures, tours, exhibitions, walking tours and other forms of outreach are used to engage the public. Jim conveys the history of Alabama by presenting lectures to schools, clubs, churches, genealogical societies and civic groups; through curating exhibitions of material from the Archives collection; and through his writing.

In addition to numerous articles and book reviews for popular and academic publications, he has edited, authored or co-authored five books, has presented papers on Alabama history at more than twenty scholarly conferences and has been featured on A…

Meet Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals Board Member Cassandra McLendon

The Young Professionals of the Birmingham Public Library celebrate the rich history and prosperous future of Birmingham's oldest cultural institution. The Young Professionals support the Library financially and culturally and promote its remarkable treasures. By hosting dynamic lectures, special collection tours, and other social events and by volunteering time and skills, the Young Professionals increase public awareness of and access to the Library's resources.

What is your full name, age, and occupation? Cassandra Denise McLendon, 26, Data Specialist at Children’s of Alabama.

What is your favorite place to eat in Birmingham? Mugshots.

Why did you get involved with the BPLYP? I love the library, and reading is my favorite hobby. I also wanted to help in giving BPL a stronger presence in Birmingham.

Which is your favorite (or most frequented) library branch? Avondale.

Name some of your favorite books as a child or teenager.Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech & To Kill a Mockingbi…

What's Black and White and Fun All Over?

If you like penguins, and who doesn’t, April 25 is World Penguin Day. It all began when the scientists and researchers at McMurdo Station in Antarctica noticed that every year on April 25, a colony of Adelie Penguins returned from spending months at sea. They returned to the same spot, on the same day, every year. Coincidence… no way! This is the normal migrating pattern of Adelie Penguins. After several years of observing this phenomenon, the scientists and researchers began to plan for the penguins’ arrival and created a day of celebration. Every year, hundreds of penguins would arrive on schedule and the celebration would commence. This was the start of World Penguin Day. If you are unable to visit Antarctica for a first-hand look at the migration, do something else penguin friendly like waddle when you walk, wear black and white, visit the zoo or check out some of my favorite books about penguins. Happy World Penguin Day!

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater Penguins, P…

Bards & Brews at Avondale Park to Benefit Teen Poetry Initiative

We're moving these bards inside the library! 

Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series will travel to the Avondale Library on Friday, May 3, 2013. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the May 3 Bards & Brews will be a fundraiser for BPL’s Teen Poetry Initiative. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with live music, and poetry performances start at 7:00. In case of inclement weather, the event moves inside to the Avondale Regional Library located at 509 40th St. S. The program is free and open to the public.
Craft beer will be available for sampling courtesy of Avondale Brewing Company, and light refreshments will be served.  Attendees must be 18 years or older to be admitted, and 21 years or older to be served. IDs will be checked.

Barry Marks, current president of the Alabama State Poetry Society, will serve as co-host along with our usual emcee Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins. Marks, 1998 Alabama Poet of the Year, is …


Join us May 8 at Wylam Library for an introduction to the series, EAT THIS, NOT THAT!by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding.  The authors promote making better choices when eating out or buying groceries.  At Outback, instead of choosing The Outback Burger with 1,235 calories, get Victoria's Filet (620 calories). Or pick Newman's Own Mild Salsa (10 calories for 2 Tbsp and 65 mg sodium), not Herdez Salsa Casera Mild (10 calories for 2 Tbsp but 220 mg sodium) for your chips. Follow the guidance in these books and you will find yourself in better health.  We'll be sharing more tips and will have titles from the series to check out at the program.

Woodlawn Souldown

This event has been cancelled due to bad weather forecast for this Sunday.

Come out and join the Woodlawn community as they host their first Woodlawn Souldown! On Sunday, April 28, from 2:00-5:00 p.m., come and enjoy music, games, and entertainment in the heart of Woodlawn (55th Place South). There will also be food trucks in attendance from the following vendors: Repicci's Italian Ice & Gelato, Bobby's Q, Ezell's Catfish Cabin, Soiree Cafe, Deb's Divine Soul Food, and Jim 'N Nick's. This event is sure to be fun for the whole family!

Contact REV Birmingham at 205-595-0562 for more information.

Birmingham Public Library Sponsors Bullying Forums, Community Screening of Bully Documentary

Join us for a community showing of the movie Bully.
May 9 at The Edge Theater Movie times are 12 noon, 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. Free tickets are available by calling 226-3610. Tickets must be presented to gain entrance into the theater for each movie screening.
This compelling documentary follows students from public schools in Georgia, Iowa, Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma during the 2009–10 school year; it also follows the students' families. The film's particular focus is on the deaths of Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, victims of bullying who took their own lives. The film describes in great detail how the average American school kid cannot defend himself or herself against ridicule. It exposes the daily trials of many students as they face their tormentors without help or hope of the pain ending. The Birmingham Public Library is sponsoring a community screening of the documentary, Bully, as a part of our community forums discussing the issue of bullying in our scho…

Movie Review: Intouchables

Intouchables (2011)
The Intouchables (USA Title, translation: The Untouchables)
Written and directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache
[Based on a true story.]

Not since Amelie (2001) has a French film made such a stir internationally with both critical acclaim and major box office activity. There is such an increasing buzz surrounding this film that one might want to be careful not to be the last to see it. Fortunately the Birmingham Public Library and other libraries throughout the Jefferson County Library Cooperative make it available to you for free.

When a millionaire quadriplegic, Philippe (played by Francois Cluzet) and his staff are busy conducting interviews to select a new caretaker for him, the last thing they expect is to be interrupted by a brash Senegalese immigrant demanding a signature to keep his unemployment compensation. Notice that Driss (played by Omar Sy in his first major screen role) does not really want the job, he just wants to keep his unemployment money f…

Local Author Margaret Wrinkle Visits Five Points West Library, April 24

by Margaret Wrinkle

We’re thrilled to announce that Birmingham-born author Margaret Wrinkle will make a special appearance at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library on Wednesday, April 24th @ 10:30a.m. She will discuss her highly acclaimed novel Wash and the photographs which helped inspire it.

From the novel’s Facebook page: “Wash re-examines American slavery in ways that confound our contemporary assumptions about race, history and power as it carries the reader from the burgeoning South to West Africa and deep into the ancestral stories that reside in the soul.”

The acclaimed novel has been voted as one of Oprah’s 16 picks for March 2013. People Magazine recently chose Wash as a “People Pick of the Week” (Feb 25, 2013 v79 #8).

Wash explores slavery through the eyes of both captive and captor. Washington is the first member of his family to be born into slavery while James Richardson is a troubled Revolutionary War veteran and slaveholder who has spent his life fightin…

Book Review: At Home

At Home
Bill Bryson

It’s impossible to measure the total aggregate pleasure each nonfiction English language writer brings worldwide, but if you could, I’ll bet Bill Bryson’s would be right there at the top. I’m one that would boost the total. A Short History of Nearly Everything, which took on the history of science, was one of my life’s Himalayan reading experiences. At Home’s subtitle, A Short History of Private Life, recalls the former book, with a bit more modesty. Like the former, it’s also a joy to read, and like it, it provides a quirky, sometimes impressionistic history of its subject rather than a conventional one. At Home uses the parts of a typical house, from the basement to the attic, as jumping off points and metaphors for a history (mostly American, British and Western European) of houses and life inside them. Bryson’s springboard to this springboard is his own house, a parsonage in England built in 1851. How did it-and all houses-get to today’s house? How did priva…

Appreciating a Volunteer

Seven years ago, West End Branch Library Assistant III Denise Ford said, “I have someone who wants to volunteer here.” The volunteer’s name was Jeanette Dallas and she only wanted to volunteer on Thursdays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. I didn’t know that Mrs. Dallas would become another “member” of the West End Branch staff.

Over the years, Mrs. Dallas has helped set up, serve, staff, break down and clean up, library programs; helped at the circulation desk; shelved books; kept our plants alive and made us feel like we mattered by her quiet dedication. She rarely misses a Thursday and if she does, she calls in like an employee would. We can call and ask for her help with programs that we have at night or summer reading programs and she’ll come and help.

Would you believe that we’re not the only place where she volunteers? Mrs. Dallas also volunteers, on Wednesdays, at the Birmingham Urban League, where she answers the phone and serves as the receptionist. She volunteers at her churc…

Word Up 2013 on Video

Eboni Wallace performing at the WORD UP! 2013 competition.

Want to see more? Here is a Playlist of all the Word Up 2013 Videos. 

Audiobook Review: Words in the Dust

Words in the Dust
Trent Reedy
Narrated by Ariani Delawari

Words in the Dust is about an Afghan girl named Zulaikha born with a cleft palate. Because of this defect, she feels worthless in a society that values women by marriage prospects. But then she meets a woman who teaches her to read and write, and an organization that would like to fix her cleft palate, and it stirs in her feelings of worth and hope.

There were many pieces of this audiobook, narrated by Delawari, that rang true. Zulaikha’s initial hesitation in her voice was logical with her cleft palate and protruding teeth, which made speech difficult. By contrast was her father’s second wife, Melichi, who always spoke in a very screechy, jarring voice. Zulaikha’s friend, the older professor, spoke in a whispery, scratchy voice indicative of an older person, which she was.

Zulaikha's love for her sister was so evident and spoken in such lovely tones. It made me realize how circumscribed the lives of these women are that the…