Showing posts from June, 2013

Staff Pick: The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood

The Two-Minute Drill to Manhood
John Croyle

John Croyle, for those of you who don’t know him, was an All-American defensive end at the University of Alabama during head coach Paul "Bear" Bryants' tenure. He has since spent his time as founder of the Big Oak Ranch, a home for over 1800 abused and neglected children, as well as parenting his own two kids. Based on his experience, he has produced a guidebook for parents who are raising sons. He uses a simple formula to make his point:

M - Master
A – Ask and Listen
N – Never Compromise
H – Handle Your Business
O – One Purpose
O – One Body
D – Don’t Ever, Ever, Ever, Give Up

One of the stories which struck a nerve with me involved a car trip with Brody. Brody asked if they were to obey the law. Of course, John said yes. Brody then pointed out the Speed Detector on the dashboard and inquired as to its purpose. He correctly assumed that it was used to evade driving the speed limit. This gave John pause, as it would most of u…

Gifts of a Wordsmith Workshop for July

Award-winning poet and community activist John Paul Taylor will lead free adult poetry workshops on the first Tuesday of every month from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Gifts of a Wordsmith will take place in the Story Castle on the second floor of Central Library. The next workshop is scheduled for July 2. Taylor is one of the founders of Real Life Poets, a nonprofit creative writing program based in Birmingham.

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. The Friends of the Birmingham Public Library funds the workshops.

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

Friends Book Sale to Be Held July 1- July 14, 2013, in the Friends Bookstore (@ Central Library)

The Friends of BPL Bookstore will host its semi-annual 'bag' sale from  Monday, July 1 through Sunday, July 14. Buy a Friends' bag for $6 and fill it up with almost anything in the Bookstore (located in the Central Library at 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203).
In addition all other Friends merchandise in the store (t-shirts, mugs, etc) will be reduced by 25%.  All purchases will greatly benefit the Birmingham Public Library!
Come fill a bag and Happy Summer Reading!

It's a Pirate's Life for Me, Yo Ho!

ARRGGHH!  Peter Pirate's Parrot Polly lost the letters spelling her name when she molted. But don't worry.  The children played I Spy With My Pirate Eye and found color coded feathers hidden around the room.  By mastering the tasks written on the back of each feather, they earned her letters back, and became master pirates!

Tot Time at the Avondale Regional Library is a program for 2-4 year olds with a caregiver.  It is held on Monday mornings at 10:30.  Call 226-4003 to register!  Don't delay, do it today!

Bards & Brews Travels to the Hoover Public Library in July

The July 12 edition of the Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series will travel to the Hoover Public Library located at 200 Municipal Drive. Held every month except December, this Bards & Brews will be a SLAM—first place winner gets $200, and second place winner $100. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m with live music, and poetry performances start 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 local politics.

Craft beer will be available for sampling courtesy of Blue Pants Brewery of Madison, Alabama, 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.

Bards & Brews is usually held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around town. Look for us on August 2, 2013 at the Avonda…

Beach Reads

Summer is officially here and you know what that means.  It's time to head for the beach.  In addition to the sunscreen, beach towel, lounge chair, and cooler, make sure you have a good book to read while you relax in the sun.  Here are a few new titles to consider taking on the trip.  Book descriptions are from the publisher.

Courting Greta  by Ramsey Hootman

Samuel Cooke knows most women wouldn't give him a second glance even if he were the last man on earth.  So when he leaves his lucrative career to teach programming to high schoolers, romance definitely isn't on his radar.  Perhaps that's why Greta Cassamajor catches him off guard.  The sarcastic gym coach with zero sense of humor is no beauty not even on the inside.  But an inexplicably kind act toward Samuel makes him realize she is interesting.  Samuel is certain she won't accept his invitation to dinner so when she does, he's out of his depth.  All he knows is that he'll do whatever it take…

An Easy Way to Get Started with E-Books

A story in The New York Times in May of 2011 reported e-books surpassed print sales. E-books are here to stay. Despite difficulties with publishers, libraries continue to acquire more titles. When searching our library catalog, all versions of a book will be listed print, e-book, and audio book. There are many ways to read e-books. So many in fact, that one can be overwhelmed choosing a way to read. I have found the simplest for me, since I have not yet invested in a Kindle or Nook, is to use the Kindle app for PC or MAC and then read e-books in the browser on my pc. You do not have to have a Kindle to use the app. Here is the link to download the app:  And here is the link to our e-book and audio book collections:

So go ahead, take the plunge and find an e-book to enjoy.  

Mom, Is This a Brown Recluse In My Closet‽

Yes, summer has arrived. It’s time to play in the yard, go to the ball park, or strap on your hiking shoes. It’s also time to spray on the anti-bug spray, and determine which multi-legged species is invading your play space, or (gulp), your bed. The North American Insects and Spiders website from Red Planet is a great site for determining exactly what kind of creepy crawly you’re dealing with. Luscious, close-up photographs of spiders, bees, and beetles make it very easy to figure out if you’re looking at a Brown Recluse or a Longbodied Cellar Spider. Although the photographs do enhance the user’s ability to correctly identify insects, there’s more to this site than just pretty photographs. For example the nearly microscopic photo of the Brown Recluse clearly shows three distinct eye clusters. The site then explains that “a definitive physical feature of recluse spiders is their eyes: most spiders have eight eyes that typically are arranged in two rows of four, but recluse spiders ha…

Children's Book Review: Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace (Ages 8 and Up)

Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace
Nan Marino

Eleven year old Elvis Ruby is living the dream. He’s a good looking, talented, rich, and he’s the most beloved pop star in the country. He’s got it made. That is until he totally freezes up during the final round of the world-famous reality show Tween Star. Not only did he ruin his chance of winning the title, but his fans won’t let him live it down. He’s suddenly the laughingstock of the world. It’s a tough break for an eleven-year-old kid. The only thing that Elvis wants to do is run away, and his dad has found him the perfect place: Piney Pete's Pancake Palace in the remote wilds of New Jersey. Elvis lays low with quirky family friends where he learns how to act like a normal kid and the secret of making the perfect pancake. He befriends a nosy and outspoken girl named Cecilia who can’t help but speak her mind and certainly can’t keep a secret. Cecilia, who is completely lacking musical talent, helps Elvis find his music again, and …

Impact Alabama's SaveFirst Program Honored For Community Impact

The Birmingham Public Library Board recently presented certificates of appreciation to Impact Alabama Program Manager Channing Kennedy and Executive Director Sarah Louise Smith for providing free tax help to patrons through their SaveFirst program.

SaveFirst has been available to Birmingham Public Library (BPL) patrons for the past several years. This past year, the program was available at three BPL locations: Smithfield, Woodlawn, and West End. The program just at these three locations resulted in 1,486 tax forms prepared and filed, $2,297,516.00 refunds secured, and an estimated $449,800 saved in preparations fees.

About SaveFirst
SaveFirst targets those who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, the federal government’s largest anti-poverty program supporting low- to moderate-income working individuals and families. (Website)

The Need for SaveFirst
Many low-income households are eligible for the EIC and other tax credits, but are unaware of their existence and thus do not appl…

Library Prepares for Fusion Exhibition

The sculptural work of Charles Clary and Jamey Grimes will intrigue, fascinate, and challenge viewers. It is an exhibition unlike anything shown at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) before. The artwork may resemble objects seen in nature, yet they are fictional fabrications born of the artists’ imagination. This exhibition titled Fusion: Sculpture by Jamey Grimes and Charles Clary is scheduled to open on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 in the Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery of the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place. An opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, June 29 from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. in the Fourth Floor Board Room. The exhibition runs through August 2, 2013 and is on view during regular hours of operation.

Charles Clary is Associate Professor at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee where he teaches painting and design. He received his BFA in Painting from Middle Tennessee State University and an MFA in painting from the …

Book Review: The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”

The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”
Alan Light

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
that David played to please the Lord
but you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
the minor fall, the major lift;
the baffled king composing Hallelujah!

Few songs in modern times have managed to capture the hearts and minds of millions the way that Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” has. Many first learned of it from a VH1 post-9/11 tribute featuring Jeff Buckley’s cover, while others learned of it when k.d. lang performed it at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Hundreds of other artists have offered their versions including John Cale, Rufus Wainwright, Celine Dion, Bono, Chris Botti, Michael McDonald, Neil Diamond, Susan Boyle, and Bon Jovi to name just a few. The song has been featured in films such as Shrek (Rufus Wainwright) and The Educators and on popular television shows inc…

Archivist Frazine Taylor Leads Genealogy Workshop on Researching Convict Records, June 22

How can convict records help with your research? Or do you think perhaps this is research that cannot possibly have anything to do with you and your family? Well, think again! Librarian, archivist and lecturer Frazine Taylor will lead a workshop to discuss vagrancy laws and examine daily convict labor reports, applications for employment and inmates’ correspondence for clues to family information. The workshop titled "Genealogy At Its Worst: Researching Convict Records" is scheduled for Saturday, June 22, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place. This workshop is free and open to the public.

Vagrancy, the offense of a person not being able to prove that he or she is employed, was an innovative and insubstantial fabrication used at the end of the nineteenth century by the state legislature of Alabama and other southern states to put unsuspecting persons in the legal system. It was enforced by local sheriffs and constables, an…

80 Years of the Man of Steel

Since making his debut in Action Comics #1, Superman has been an American icon. That 1938 appearance brought the crime-fighting Kryptonian into the imaginations of children and adults, first bringing hope throughout the Great Depression, and later being a moral hero through confusing times. Originally created by two high school students, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster in 1933, Superman was soon sold to Detective Comics, now DC Comics, where he first donned his “S” emblazoned costume.

Over the last 80 years, Superman has met sidekicks and enemies including Supergirl (1959) and even Batman (and Robin), beginning in World’s Finest (1941). He joined the Justice League in 1960, fighting alongside a rotating team of heroes including Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern. Although his love interest with Lois Lane started in Action Comics #1, Superboy #10 introduced Lana Lang, Superman’s high school love interest—a relationship that was elaborated upon in the television…

Book Review: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid
Bill Bryson

If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you know I have spasms over Bill Bryson’s books. I do go on a bit. Still, after reading and liking several of his titles, I’d put this one off. A memoir about growing up in Iowa in the fifties? I doubted even Bryson could sell that. Looking back, I’m puzzled by my hesitation. All I had to do was read one paragraph.

I quickly saw that, of all the times and places Bryson had traveled to, researched and written about, none was more exotic than his childhood. Des Moines at midcentury was a place where kids watched TV through their neighbors’ windows. TV was so rare, they didn’t care if they couldn’t hear the sound. Fear of polio was ever-present; to avoid contract, a magazine advised against “admitting new people to the family circle.” The nation’s top food writer, Duncan Hines, went to Europe, came home and told his fellow citizens they weren’t missing anything if they hadn’t eaten there. Food was …

Registration Now Open For July Computer Classes

The Regional Library Computer Center July 2013 Computer Classes schedule is now available, and registration is open to the public for the free courses. Please note that class times have been changed to 10:30 am – 12:30 pm. This month, we are again offering Microsoft Office 2010 programs and featuring Twitter in our “Introduction to Social Media” course. programs will be offered in August. Beginner Classes July 8 – Keyboarding: Introduces you to the basics of working with the computer keyboard and the mouse. Participants need not have any previous computer experience to take this course.July 9 – Basic PC: Introduces people to the computer: basic PC terms, components, hardware, peripherals, desktop features, etc. Participants need not have any previous computer experience to take this course.July 10 – Basic Internet: Introduces people to the history of the Internet, how to access and surf the Web, what web browsers are, what search engines are available, and basic search me…

Introduction to Finding Funders Workshop

This session provides an introduction to the Foundation Center's comprehensive online database, Foundation Directory Online Professional. Learn how to create customized searches to develop targeted lists of foundations that will match your organization's funding needs. We will also explore Power Search, which allows you to search across nine Foundation Center databases—grantmakers, grants, companies, 990s, news, jobs, RFPs, nonprofit literature, and IssueLab reports. Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 11:00 a.m., in the Youth Department's Story Castle, Central Library

Free but space is limited. Pre-register by e-mailing

Research the Company Before That All-Important Interview

The U.S. continues to experience a sluggish labor-market recovery, despite better than expectant job creation numbers released for the month of May. According to the many media outlets, the jobs behind the numbers are mostly low-paying positions. During the economic downturn, numerous high-paying jobs were eliminated, leaving many high-skilled workers unemployed. With so many people looking for employment, how does one gain a competitive edge over the competition when interviewing for a job? Be prepared.

One way to prepare for an interview is to research the company ahead of time for which you seek employment. This step can give you an edge in answering potential questions about the company and also a heads up in knowing what questions to ask. Most people think that going to the company’s website is the only way to research a company. Unfortunately, not all websites provide all the information you’ll need to have to get a leg up on your competition.

The Birmingham Public Library prov…

Digging in the Garden at Avondale's Tot Time

Monday's Tot Time at the Avondale Library was all about gardening. I created a felt board to tell the feature story, Tops and Bottoms, by Janet Stephens. In this folk tale, Rabbit offers to plant a field for Bear, and gives him the choice of 'tops' or 'bottoms' from the harvest. When Bear chooses tops, Rabbit plants carrots, radishes, and turnips. When Bear chooses bottoms, Rabbit plants lettuce, broccoli, and celery. Bear cries, "NO FAIR! This time I want tops and bottoms!" So Rabbit plants corn. Bear learns a lesson about work and self reliance, and Rabbit buys a farm with the proceeds from selling his vegetables. 

The paper mounds on the felt board were made from grocery sacks. The felt vegetables were hidden in the paper mounds and 'grew' to be harvested by Rabbit. As the vegetables were harvested, the tops were "un-velcroed" from the bottoms. This visual helped the younger children follow the story. I designed our craft of creating …

Library Partnership Encourages Area Students to Dream Big

Alabama Power Company (APCO), the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club, and the Birmingham Public Library will launch the A.G. Gaston American Dream Entrepreneur contest for area students with the first of two panel discussions with local entrepreneurs. Students who attend one of two panel discussions and submit a business idea will be eligible to win a laptop computer.

Students in grades 5-12 are eligible to participate in the contest. To be eligible to win a laptop, students must attend one of two panel discussions taking place Friday, June 14, at the Central Library, and Monday, June 24, at the Smithfield Library. Both panels will take place at noon.

Through the contest, partner organizations hope to introduce young people to the late A.G. Gaston, who rose above poverty and discrimination to build a long list of successful Birmingham companies.

Participating students will be encouraged to read Gaston's memoir, Green Power, which was recently republished for the first time …

Public Computers Will Be Down Thursday

The Birmingham Public Library Information Technology Department will be upgrading software on the public computers this Thursday, June 13. During this process, the computers in the Computer Commons and Regional Library Computer Center will be closed to the public. Both areas will reopen and computers accessible to the public on Friday, June 14. We apologize for any inconvenience. 

If you must have computer access, you are welcome to visit our other branches in the Birmingham Public Library system.

Meet Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals Board Member Rikesha Foster

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? Rikesha Suelena Foster, 34, Special Education Teacher with the Birmingham City School District.

What is your favorite place to eat in Birmingham?Slice Stone Pizza and Brew in Lakeview.

Why did you get involved with the BPLYP? I've been an avid supporter of the library for years. I've served as a volunteer, monthly donor, and as a participant in various library programs. So when the opportunity arose to join the BPLYP board, I felt that was a perfect opportunity to cont…

Book Review: The Book of Killowen

The Book of Killowen

By Erin Hart
Set in modern-day Ireland, The Book of Killowenreaffirms the power of language and  the never-ending mysteries of good and evil. With its haunting lyrical storyline, it brings together forensics, archeology, and the history of Ireland.
In the Bog of Killowen, the well-preserved body of a 9th century man is found buried in the trunk of a car. As the bog man is studied, the archeologists discover that the ancient corpse is not alone. Pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for only two months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart, so how did they end up buried together
in the bog?
Bogs,Women pathologists,Ireland, Archaeologists

Books That Celebrate Dad and Fatherhood

Father's Day is a time to celebrate the men in our lives who have raised and loved us.

According to Wikipedia, since Mother's Day was such a success in the United States, Father's Day was considered a way to celebrate fatherhood and male parenting. Sonora Dodd is credited for the establishment of this celebration.

Father's Day was founded in Spokane, Washington, at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children. After hearing a sermon about the founder of Mother's Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Initially June 5, her father's birthday, was suggested as the day to honor father's. The celebration was set for the third Sunday in June to allow pastors enough time to prepare their sermons.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johns…

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 This month's program is scheduled for Saturday, June 15.

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.

National Doughnut Day, June 7

National Doughnut Day was created in 1938 to raise much-needed funds during the Great Depression, and to honor the work of World War I Salvation Army volunteers who prepared foods for thousands of soldiers. During World War I, Salvation Army “Lassies” were sent to the front lines of Europe. These brave women cooked homemade treats and provided a much needed morale boost to the troops. Often the doughnuts were cooked in oil inside the metal helmet of an American soldier. The Salvation Army lassies were the only women outside of military personnel who were allowed to visit the front lines. Lieutenant Colonel Helen Purviance is considered the Salvation Army’s “first doughnut girl.” This national observation takes place on the first Friday of June each year and celebrates the doughnut or “donut.” Be it sprinkles, chocolate, cream-filled, sugar, cake, powdered, jelly-filled, or glazed, nothing beats a doughnut, a glass of milk, and a good book.

The Great Doughnut Paradeby Rebecca Bon…