Showing posts from April, 2015

She Walks the Walk for March of Dimes Babies

For the past three years, Diana Prince has made certain Birmingham Public Library (BPL) staff know a thing or two about the March of Dimes. With more than 60,000 new births in Alabama each year, at least 1,800 babies are born with a birth defect and premature births are high. Diana knows this and she puts every bit of effort into raising awareness and raising funds to help. Her willingness to coordinate staff giving is no easy task, yet she puts her heart into it and helps to cultivate funds for a worthy cause.

As a City of Birmingham department, the library continues to rank among the top three departments when it comes to giving. In February, Diana and her library “valentine elves” put together 19 gift baskets for the annual March of Dimes auction. The library’s baskets brought in a total of $1,650, the third highest total among all City of Birmingham departments. The library raised a grand total of $3, 707 this year, $2,437 in 2014, and $2,914 in 2013.

On Saturday, April 25, Di…

Throw a Party…But Plan a Wedding

A few weeks ago one of my cousins got married. So, I started thinking about the popularity of spring and summer weddings and how much work goes into the planning and execution of a successful wedding ceremony. This in turn, made me think about wedding planners and the job they do. Did you know that there is a certification for wedding planners? Here is a list of resources to help you become a wedding planner or to help you plan your own wedding.

Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette
The Everything Mother of the Bride Book: A survival Guide for Mom
How to Start a Home-Based Wedding Planning Business
The Knot Little Books of Big Wedding Ideas
Plan the Perfect Wedding on a Small Budget
A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration
The Wedding A to Z: Everything You Need to Know—*and Stuff You Never Thought to Ask
Wedding Planning for Dummies
Wedding Planning: The Complete Guide to Wedding Planning
Weddings: From Snapshots to Great Sho…

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Event Takes Place May 1 at Central Library

Birmingham Public Library’s popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series takes place Friday, May 1, 6:30 p.m., at the Central Library. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the open mic May event features beer provided by Straight to Ale of Huntsville—The J. Clyde will handle the pouring. The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to participate—ID is required.

The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with live music, beer tasting, and light refreshments. The poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins serving as our host.

The June Bards & Brews will be an Open Mic on June 5 at the Avondale Regional Library. For more information call 205-226-3670, email, or visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page.

Southern History Department's Book of the Month: Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun

Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun
By Tim Hollis

Now that spring has come and summer is approaching, some of us who are “of a certain age” generally indulge in a few moments of nostalgia about family vacations. Remember getting up at 3:00 a.m. for the long drive in the cool of the night? The only air conditioning in the car was the good old 4-60 system: four windows rolled down at sixty miles an hour. Come to think of it, a lot of the cars didn’t have seat belts, either. Heaven knows how we lived to grow up. We kids stood on the seats and climbed around in the car, craning our necks to see roadside attractions like the giant dinosaur at a Sinclair Oil service station, the teepees of a Wigwam Village Motel—“Travel the Wigwam Way”—or yet another barn roof encouraging us to See Rock City. On some of the older state highways you might even spot the remains of a Burma-Shave sign.

Tim Hollis has captured all the nostalgia of the pre-Interstate Highway era in Dixie Before Disney:…

Downloadable eBook and Audiobook Workshop at Wylam Library

Wylam Library is hosting the "Downloadable eBook and Audiobook Workshop" on May 13 at 10:00 a.m. Kathy Burts from the Central Library will be helping us demonstrate how easy it is to download eBooks and audiobooks using OverDrive. If you have a tablet or other device, bring it.  If you have been thinking about purchasing a device, we will be happy to answer your questions and help you select what will best suit your needs.  Call 785-0349 for more information.

Yay for Art!

I always get excited when kids are offered an opportunity to express themselves artistically. Kids benefit from art in so many ways.

On Tuesday, May 5, at 4:00 p.m., Toby Richards from the Birmingham Museum of Art will visit North Avondale Library to talk about different types of art. Kids will spend time learning and will get the chance to create an art project directed by Richardson.

Hey kids, join us and let’s have some fun at the library!

Saundra Ross
North Avondale Library

Beach Reads

With all these April showers, it's probably hard to think about going to the beach.  Before you know it, though, you'll wake up, and it will be Memorial Day.  Publishers know this, so they are releasing new titles for you to enjoy as you lounge on the beach.  Many authors who are known for their summer-themed novels have new books coming out in May.  Get the sunscreen, the cooler, and the bathing suits ready so you can relax with these beach reads.  Title descriptions are from the publisher.

Beach Town  by Mary Kay Andrews  (5/19)
Greer Hennessy is a struggling movie location scout. Her last location shoot ended in disaster when a film crew destroyed property on an avocado grove. Now Greer has been given one more chance. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thinadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentali…

What Should I Read Next?

I am a Youth Librarian for the Birmingham Public Library and I love my job! While my work holds lots of exciting challenges, one of the special perks is reading the new books that are added to the collection. We are five months into 2015 and it is already promising to be a notable year in the world of children’s book publishing. Here are just a few of my personal favorites, so far:

This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne – When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right.

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman – When her parents find a baby wolf on their doorstep and decide to raise him as their own, Dot is certain he will eat them all up until a surprising encounter with a bear brings them closer together.

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton – Four friends creep through the woods, and what do they spot? An exquisite bird high in a tree! “Hello birdie…

Helping a Patron With an Auto Repair Question

This question concerned an Oldsmobile 307 engine which was in a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne. My patron needed to know which way the horseshoe-shaped piston was supposed to be inserted—with the bottom of the horseshoe pointing up or pointing down. Of course, I immediately went to the ChiltonLibrary in the databases, but the diagram that came up showed a round piston. We went to Google Images and found a picture that showed him exactly what he needed to know.

I've found that when a schematic or diagram for any kind of engine (especially small engines that aren't covered in Chilton) is wanted, Google Images can be a great tool for finding it. Had this failed, I would have tried to do a search through one or more of the Oldsmobile online forums to see if this question had been addressed by someone previously.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

“Everything Going On in This Library”: Thoughts after National Library Week

At the East Ensley branch, we recently had the pleasure of issuing a library card to a young woman who has only been in Birmingham for about a month. She moved here from Minnesota and has a job with the Birmingham Zoo. As we chatted while she filled out her application, she admitted that Alabama was different from what she had been expecting—think Deliverance—and that she was really enjoying herself here. But what struck me was that she thought getting a library card was one of the most important things to do after relocating and that she found time to do it so soon after her arrival. Anyone who has made a major relocation knows how a thousand errands clamor for your attention, yet she took the time to get her library card.

One gentleman came in to deal with some fines on his card, telling us, “I need my library card. I value my library card!”

But what made me smile the most was the teen who came in and saw our table with the lemonade and cookies last Wednesday. When she asked what i…

Book Review: Solo: My Adventures in the Air

Solo: My Adventures in the Air
Clyde Edgerton

While going through a box of books donated to the library recently, this title caught my eye. I had read one of Clyde Edgerton’s other books, the novel Where Trouble Sleeps, and enjoyed it immensely. Edgerton is a North Carolina native who has a knack for presenting small towns in the South and the natives thereof in all their quirky majesty.

In Solo, Edgerton presents his lifelong love affair with flight, starting from his fascination with airplanes as a small boy, continuing through his days as a teenage cadet with the Civil Air Patrol, and progressing through his career as a Vietnam-era pilot to his recent “retiree” years. Although at first glance this might appear to be a war story, it is not that at all. Edgerton discusses his fears and foibles, faced by almost all young novice pilots and how he learned from experiences that could have proven fatal. He describes the difference between the single engine “tail-dragger” Cessna’…

Free Skills and Drills Football Clinic for Birmingham's Youth

The Birmingham Public Library is excited to host UNMASK! with the Cotchery Foundation. Jerricho Cotchery, one of Birmingham’s native sons, has teamed up with the library to host yet another amazing series of events for the 2015 Teen Summer Reading Program, UNMASK!

Born in 1982, Cotchery grew up to be an incredible athlete. He excelled at Phillips High School in Birmingham and attended North Carolina State University. The New York Jets drafted him in 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers added him to their roster in 2010, and in 2014 he joined the Carolina Panthers.

Named for the famous Biblical city, Jerricho is deeply committed to his faith and to community outreach. He was moved to start the Cotchery Foundation in January 2007 as a result of his own personal memories and experiences growing up. He and his foundation have set out to "show that anyone can do extraordinary things if they have the desire and passion." Cotchery has made it his mission to show that any individual can …

Extraordinary Performances by Teen Poets Amaze Audience

Sixteen young poets, representing high schools from throughout Jefferson County, gave heartfelt performances during the 2015 WORD UP! poetry competition. Over 100 people were in attendance. They clapped and gave “shout outs” to show their appreciation for the extraordinary performances.

WORD UP! is a poetry slam for high school students enrolled in schools—or home schooled—in Jefferson County. Sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) System and Real Life Poets (RLP), the event was held on Saturday, April 11, at 3:00 p.m. in the Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium of BPL’s Central Library. Students in grades 9 through 12 wrote and performed an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee. The theme for this year’s WORD UP! was “Survive.” Each participating high school held a preliminary contest, and the winners from each school competed in the final WORD UP! competition. The contestants competed for cash prizes and were rated on con…

Programs on Investment Research Scheduled for April 20 and 21 at Central Library

Money Smart Week 2015 offers free events throughout Alabama focused on financial education for all ages and walks of life. The Birmingham Public Library will host two events: How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research and How to Get Started with Investing.

How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research is scheduled for April 20, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. in the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. This program will provide novice and experience investors information on how to select and monitor their investments using Mergent and Morningstar. It will also cover how to research a company before purchasing their stock.

How to Get Started with Investing is scheduled for April 21, 2015, at 1:00 the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. Dr. Stephanie Yates, Director of UAB’s Institute of Financial Literacy, will describe the fundame…

Are Libraries Still Relevant? A Case Study of the Southern History Department

Some people think libraries are no longer relevant and just a place to store old books that no one reads. We don't think so.  Other people agree and have cited the Southern History Department's Beyond the Basics of Genealogy program as an example of how libraries are a community asset.   We want to prove that libraries are relevant by giving you a “behind the scenes” glimpse of what happens in the Southern History Department. This department houses a non-circulating collection that covers each facet of Southern culture, genealogy, and local history. In this department alone, our patrons use over 1,500 books, make over 2,500 copies, and ask over 700 reference questions each month. Yet, most people do not know about the other things the Southern History Department does to serve the community.

Birmingham Cultural Alliance Partnership (BCAP): This award-winning, collaborative after-school program that has served more than 1,650 low-income middle school students and their famil…

Teen Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a smart, snarky young woman who disdains convention, yet loves binge-watching popular TV shows.She’s also permanently attached to an oxygen tank, thanks to the Stage IV thyroid cancer that spread to her lungs when she was 14. In most instances, she’d probably be dead by now, but a recently developed miracle-drug has managed to slow down the tumor-growth in her lungs, thus extending her life for a couple of years. Now just 16, she’s already out of school with her GED, and her social circle is limited to a handful of people, including her parents, a friend from junior high, and regulars from a tedious support group that her parents force her to attend. Fortunately for Hazel, though, the support group is where she meets Augustus Waters, a one-legged survivor of osteosarcoma who, like Hazel, refuses to let cancer define him. The two quickly become close friends, and—over time—something more. John Green’s novel is not only a great, …

Get To Know the BPL Young Professional Board Members: Leah Bigbee

What is your full name, age, and occupation? 

Leah Bigbee, 26, Employer Relations & Marketing Coordinator at UAB.

Why did you get involved with the BPL YP board?

I believe in free and open access to knowledge and learning for all and I believe in the power and necessity of libraries.

As young professionals, I believe we have a civic responsibility to our city and that means supporting the library's efforts to best serve the Birmingham community.

Which is your favorite (or most frequented) library branch of the Birmingham Public Library system? 


Would you rather read on an e-reader or a book?

I prefer traditional books; it’s a welcome reprieve from the digital overload of daily life.

What is your favorite website or form of social media.

Twitter, Medium, and NPR are my must-haves.

What is your favorite place to eat in Birmingham?

Golden Temple in Five Points.

What book would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

East of Eden by John Steinbeck


Registration Open For May Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the May 2015 Computer Classes. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) LibraryPRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES. To register for a class: ((Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes.  You may also call to confirm your registration) Complete name, address and phone information. PLEASE PRINT.Place a check mark in the check box next to the class(es) you would like to attend.Return the entire form to a staff person in the Public Computer Services department.You may also send an email to or use the online form to register.

New System Teen Librarian Promotes Blending Technology and Art

BPL welcomes new System Teen Librarian, Lance Simpson, to its staff. Lance’s areas of interest and expertise are informal learning environments that focus on the blending of technology and art programming for teens. He's an advocate for the connected learning movement, which focuses on providing experiential learning opportunities for teens that are based in 21st century models for education.

Since starting with BPL in December 2014, Lance has worked with a team of BPL staff members to apply for grants that will fund new learning tools and programming that include 3D printing, sound and video editing, the learning of computer coding languages, and more.

Currently, Lance provides a weekly technology program at the Central Library where, on Mondays, teens have disassembled and rebuilt computers, installed new operating systems, and will soon be working as inventors to design new and exciting input devices for computers using anything that will conduct electricity including bananas,…

Young Writers in Birmingham Final Celebration at Inglenook Library

On April 8, 2015, the Inglenook Library hosted a Writing Celebration as the culmination of the writing project that took place at Inglenook K8 School with the 4th grade class. Over 75 people, including Birmingham City Schools interim superintendent, Dr. Spencer Horn, attended.

The writing project, termed Young Writers in Birmingham, consist of a partnership between Inglenook K8 School, UAB Writing Center, and Inglenook Library. Dr. Jacyln Wells, UAB professor and director of UAB Writing Center, and her students conducted four weeks of writing workshops by providing students with a list of topics to write on including things that they like most about Inglenook K8 School. Mario Lumzy, principal of Inglenook School, and 4th grade teachers facilitated the workshops and provided needed assistance. Writings were refined as the weeks proceeded and five of the students’ writings were chosen to be published in a beautiful and organized newsletter that was designed by Dr. Wells and her students…

Exhibit at Birmingham Public Library Sure to Delight Crossword Puzzle Fans

Attention, crossword puzzle fans! An exhibit of unique crossword puzzles, Ever a Cross Word, is currently on display at the Central Library of the Birmingham Public Library in the First Floor Gallery. Created by Bob Shelton, who has been a crossword puzzle aficionado for most of his adult life, the exhibit features some thirty panels of 1) the most unique puzzles he has ever solved and 2) the best puzzles he has created. Each panel is 16” x 20", color coded and enlarged for easy viewing. He has targeted libraries as the most suitable venue for their showing. The exhibit can be viewed during regular library hours in the First Floor Gallery until May 29, 2015. Also on display are eight books of crosswords that Shelton created containing what he terms “new theme” puzzles. They are new in that, unlike standard crossword “themes” with a handful of related material, most of these clues refer to the titled theme.
Shelton described in a statement how his obsession took hold and blossom…

Celebrate National Library Week @ the Birmingham Public Library, April 12-18

Ever since April 1958 the American Library Association has sponsored the National Library Week to call attention to the great impact libraries have on individuals and organizations in our society. Not only does it honor libraries and librarians but it also honors the many patrons (customers, if you will) who support these institutions that offer a plethora of knowledge and information that uplifts the user at no personal expense other than the small portion of their tax dollars that help support it.

The mission of the Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life long learning, cultural enrichment and enjoyment.

Our focus is truly on you and we invite you to celebrate with us this week (and every week) by visiting us in person and/or online.

Walk through the doors of any of our 19 locations and expect world class service and amazing resources. If for some reason what you need is not there, take advantage of the county-wide courie…

$5 Fines Coupon Offered During National Library Week to Show Our Appreciation

Celebrate National Library Week with a $5 coupon. National Library Week is April 12-18, 2015. This coupon good for up to $5 off your overdue charges. If you have ever researched a paper, checked out a bestseller, or attended a special program, you know what a great resource your library is.

National Siblings Day

I am blessed to have a sister who is truly one of my best friends. I’m not saying we haven’t had our share of spats as all siblings do, but I can honestly say there hasn’t been a day when I didn’t love her. I have so many wonderful childhood memories that it is impossible to know where to begin: eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts in our footie pajamas, snuggling close to Mama in the big bed as she read us bedtime stories, riding the ocean waves on an inner tube with Dad, and the list goes on. Weather you find yourself blessed or tortured by a brother and/or sister, April 10, National Siblings Day, is the day to let them know how you feel. If you don’t have siblings or find yourself unable to see them today, find someone who is like a brother or sister and celebrate. Siblings Day can be observed in many ways including sending a card, going someplace special, or reading a good book. Sis, I love you and this day is for you!

Siblings Bibliography
The New Small Person by Lauren Child

Heavy Rotation

I’ve written two previous blogs on this site about my favorite repeat-viewing movies, "Movies Built To Last" and "Can’t Wear ‘Em Out." But I still had to leave off titles that are just as vital to me as those I already covered. Like the previous films, these are the ones I turn to when I don’t want to see anything new and do want to see something reliable, that holds up very well, that will reveal new facets and depth, that’s still fun. Cinematic comfort food, if you will. I will. Here goes something. Like last time, I’ve put the number of times I estimate I've seen the movie at the end of each entry.

Excalibur (1981). John Boorman dared to direct a straight King Arthur movie only six years after Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Naturally he had to avoid all the lead weight that movie satirized so well. He did that and infinitely more. It’s a revelatory take on the Grail legend and hasn’t dated one whit since its release. It didn’t have a large budget or any of …

Birmingham Public Library to Host Two Money Smart Week Events, April 20 and 21

Money Smart Week 2015 offers free events throughout Alabama focused on financial education for all ages and walks of life. The Birmingham Public Library will host two events: "How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research" and "How to Get Started with Investing."

"How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research" is scheduled for April 20, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. in the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. This program will provide novice and experience investors information on how to select and monitor their investments using Mergent and Morningstar. It will also cover how to research a company before purchasing their stock.

"How to Get Started with Investing" is scheduled for April 21, 2015, at 1:00 the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. Dr. Stephanie Yates, Director of UAB’s Institute …

One of Birmingham’s Gospel Pioneers Joins The Heavenly Choir

I was introduced to Ms. Evelyn Starks Hardy in the 1990s by a mutual friend. To know her was to love her. She shared many stories about her career as the pianist, arranger, and organizer of one of the most famous female gospel pioneer groups, The Original Gospel Harmonettes.

Evelyn Virginia Starks was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on December 15, 1922. She started playing piano at an early age. In her early years she was invited to play piano in 1940 for the National Baptist Convention Choir in Birmingham. It was here that some of her recent friends from high school, all of whom had recently graduated, decided to form a gospel group.

They called themselves the Harmoneers and its original members included Mildred Miller, Odessa Edwards, Evelyn Starks, and Willie Mae Newberry. Later Vera Kolb joined the group and Ms. Starks recruited Dorothy McGriff in 1947, who later became known as Dorothy Love Coates.

The name was changed to The Gospel Harmonettes and the group recorded for RCA in …